To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the backlog of unmet clinical cancer need due to the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps his Department is taking to improve radiotherapy services.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
21 September 2020
One of the key priorities for cancer outlined in the third phase of the National Health Service response to COVID-19 is to reduce the number of patients who have waited longer than 62 days from urgent referral and/or 31 days from a decision to treat to pre-pandemic levels. Actions to reduce long waits include increasing diagnostic capacity (particularly endoscopy and CT) and expanding the capacity of surgical hubs set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the wider NHS recovery programme, local systems have determined how best to restore cancer services and recovery is now underway across the NHS.
During the COVID-19 pandemic radiotherapy services provision continued and radiotherapy services made use of fewer fraction protocols as supporting evidence emerged. Subsequently the focus for radiotherapy has been to embed the use of hypofractionated (fewer fraction) treatments in order to minimise trips to hospital, particularly for people likely to be worse affected by COVID-19.