Sheffield MP calls for Government help with 'backlog' of cancer patients awaiting treatment
Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, has called for the Government to step in and help the NHS cope with the pressure caused by a backlog of cancer patients whose treatments were delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
Mr Betts says that there are a great number of cancer patients in Sheffield who are ‘worried and uncertain’ about when they will receive important treatments because they were delayed as the hospitals tried to cope with the demand placed on them by the pandemic.
Now, as the Covid rate continues to fall, and hospitals start to have more capacity, he is calling for Government funds to ensure the backlog of cancer patients can be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Mr Betts, who has blood cancer himself however has not had any of his treatments delayed, put his concerns to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the House of Commons yesterday (April 13), however he believes the Government’s current response is unsatisfactory.
He told The Star: “There have been many treatments that have had to be put on hold or delayed and that is particularly concerning around cancer.
"I think the Sheffield NHS Trust did very well in trying to manage the impact but there are a lot of worried people who have had treatments delayed and they don’t know what is going to happen and that is why extra money is needed.
"[Matt Hancock] has said the Government has put a billion pounds into the system, but the question is how much of that in going into the cancer treatment backlog, and will cancer patients get a guarantee that their treatment will happen?
"I don’t believe the money is enough to do that.”
Mr Betts also pointed out that because of the Covid restrictions during lockdowns, charity donations have fallen and this has impacted on cancer research.
"There has been a sharp fall in money for cancer research,” he said. “A lot of that money comes from charity donations and these have fallen during Covid.
"This will also have a long term impact unless the Government steps in.”
Mr Betts added that in hospitals, treatment for cancer patients is taking place at a much slower rate when it can happen, meaning the backlog continues to grow and build pressure on NHS staff.
"Clinicians have been put in an impossible position,” he said. “A lot of the capacity in hospitals has been used for Covid so they have had to decide whose treatment can be delayed or deferred.
"Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is doing well at getting people back in for treatment, but there are problems.
"Firstly because of the backlog and secondly because the social distancing and safety measures meaning it takes longer to do each treatment. So there is a backlog and things are going slower that they usually would.
"If the Government does not step in the impact could be that people’s treatment is further delayed and it could threaten their lives. That is the harsh reality and we do not want to be in that position.
"There are worried people who are uncertain when their treatment is going to happen and who are worried the delays will impact their chances of recovery. We cannot underestimate the mental pressure people are under from that.”