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17.08.20

Thousands of cancer patients helped by home deliveries

Up to 10,000 chemotherapy home deliveries have been made over three months at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring thousands of cancer patients could more safely receive treatment.

The scheme, which saw NHS staff – including community nurses and pharmacists – and volunteers dropping off the life-saving medication, allowed a number of cancer patients to avoid the need to venture out and risk infection when their immune system was low or suppressed.

The doorstep drops form part of the Covid-friendly treatments introduced in response to the pandemic, helping ensure 85,000 people could start treatment between March and June, with the latest data showing referrals beginning to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Due to the necessary restrictions in place because of Covid-19, cancer referrals and treatments have taken a significant knock and the NHS has looked for innovative ways to overcome the backlog and address some of the challenges of providing Covid-secure treatment to those patients where suitable.

Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in south London alone have been carrying out up to 500 deliveries a month.

Elsewhere, chemotherapy deliveries increased by almost half during the pandemic in Dudley with 440 treatment packages sent to patients’ homes while almost 900 were sent to people with cancer in Torbay.

Hospitals around the country have significantly increased the use of chemotherapy treatments at home, with local pharmacy teams and community nurses providing the service to reduce cancer patients’ risk of exposure to the virus.

NHS England has allocated £160m spending on drugs which mean patients do not have to go to hospital for regular checks and treatment.

Dame Cally Palmer, Director of Cancer for the NHS in England said: “NHS staff have treated more than 108,000 patients requiring specialist hospital care for COVID-19 while also keeping other vital services such as cancer, maternity and A&E running throughout the pandemic.

“The NHS has also fast tracked modern, more convenient services that help to keep patients and staff safe – from video consultations to chemotherapy delivered to patients’ doors – that have allowed 85,000 people to start cancer treatment during the pandemic.”

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