Cancer referrals drop by 40 per cent in Essex

VISITS to A&E in Essex have started to increase, but are still well down on the figures from a year before Covid-19 struck.

But it is the drop in cancer referrals that have been the most stark and that has increased concerns that people are not getting the treatment they need.

While there were 15,489 attendances at Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals in April 2020 – a 47 per cent drop compared to the 29,321 in April 2019 – the numbers have improved slightly.

In June there was a total number of visits of 24,135 compared to 31,334 in June 2019 – a 23 per cent drop.

At Princess Alexandra in Harlow there were 4,484 A&E attendances in April 2020, compared to 9,008 in April 2019.

Those figures have also improved slightly, with 7,150 in June 2020 compared to 9,822 in June 2019.

Overall emergency admissions in England are down 17.3 per cent.

Clinicians worry many people are still not seeking treatment after suffering potentially life-threatening conditions such as strokes and heart attacks because of the fear of Covid-19.

But about 2,700 people a month in Essex are not being sent for hospital cancer checks because of concerns about coronavirus, new NHS figures have revealed.

A total of 3,739 people with suspected cancer symptoms were referred by their GP in Essex for diagnostic checks in May – about 40 per cent down from the 6,432 referred in May 2019.

The steepest drop of 64 per cent was seen in Southend, where the number of referrals fell from 617 in May 2019 to 222 in May 2020.

There was a 45 per cent drop in the Basildon and Brentwood CCG area – from 1,102 in May 2019 to 607 in May 2020.

In mid Essex there was a 33 per cent drop from 1,148 in May 2019 to 771 in May 2020.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: The latest Cancer waiting times data is yet more worrying evidence of the impact of Covid-19 on cancer patients and services. It’s vital that the NHS and Government work together so healthcare staff can care for their patients in ‘Covid-protected’ environments.

“Above all, people need to feel reassured it’s safe to use our health services again. If you’re worried about symptoms, please contact your GP right away, and follow their advice to get tests, if needed, without delay.”

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