Covid crisis: 'It could take up to 18 months to clear undiagnosed cancer backlog'

29 October 2020, 12:20

By Sam Sholli

It could take up to 18 months for the UK to clear its backlog of people who are yet to be diagnosed with cancer due to coronavirus disruption, warns Macmillan Cancer Support chief Sara Bainbridge.

As many as 50,000 people in the UK have cancer which has not yet been diagnosed because of the disruption caused by Covid-19, Macmillan Cancer Support has found.

Sara Bainbridge, who is the Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, was asked by Nick how long it would take to "clear up this backlog".

She replied: "I think there's a number of projections we've analysed. We want to make sure it's really clear to the public that part of this is with them to make sure that if they're worried about something that could be cancer they contact their GP.

"That's really the first step in making sure that this backlog is cleared and then what we're trying to do is make sure that the NHS has everything it needs to keep going and to catch up with the diagnoses that haven't been made over the last few months.

"It could take up to 18 months if we don't see extra capacity. If we don't see extra capacity and we don't see people coming forward then it might take many many months."

Ms Bainbridge was keen to emphasise that the NHS "has been working incredibly hard" but that "some people haven't been coming forward to get symptoms checked out".

She added: "We think its incredibly important that we learn lessons from earlier in the year and we make sure that the Government is protecting cancer services so that the people Macmillan Cancer Support hear from don't see disruption to their care again.

"But we also need to make sure that there's staff and no redeployment of staff as well as resources to make sure that cancer care can keep going as hospital admissions from Covid rise."