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There is little doubt that the consequences of Covid-19 have rippled through every aspect of the medical profession. However, the latest figures relating to cancer diagnosis and treatment have raised concerns about the impact of the mounting potential for cancer compensation claims as more and more patients are facing significant delays relating to cancer.
In fact, the number of patients waiting for cancer treatment for more than 100 days has more than doubled since the same period the year before.
Current national targets in place state that cancer patients should be treated within 62 of being referred for treatment. However, at the beginning of February 2021, the number of cases waiting more than 15 weeks had hit 6,109. This is more than double that in 2020 whereby 3,000 patients were waiting in excess of 15 weeks. In the North West of England, this figure had nearly tripled from 289 cases, to 831. It is unknown what impact this will have on the number of individuals seeking cancer compensation as a result of the delays.
Given the scope of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is understandable that there has been significant strain placed on the resources of the NHS. Surgical lists were placed on hold during certain periods in order to allow the hospitals to focus on the influx of coronavirus patients. However, this is likely to have led to a direct impact on cancer patients, many of whom required surgery or treatment which was subsequently delayed. It had also been mused that cancer surgery and treatments could have been provided at specially designated Covid-free hospitals in order to minimise the impact on individuals and to help reduce the number of hospital negligence claims as a result.
Delays in treatment can have devastating impacts on individuals and result in the cancer progressing to a more advanced stage. It can also lead to increased and more invasive treatment being required, additional hospital stays and obviously further exasperate the suffering of the individual. Where the individuals health has suffered as a result of the delay, it may be possible to seek delayed treatment compensation.
Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said the growing backlogs were “very worrying”, adding: “For almost a year now, we have been calling for the creation of separate ‘Covid-light’ facilities at hospitals around the country, so that cancer and other types of surgery can keep going through the pandemic. This pandemic has shown us that we need a long-term solution to deal with the growing waiting lists in surgery.”