Up to 1,900 COVID-19 tests are needed a day in Wales to get cancer services back on track, according to new analysis from Cancer Research UK.
The charity’s experts have also calculated a drop of almost 14,000 urgent GP referrals for suspected cancer in Wales since lockdown began in March.
For cancer services to become fully operational again, protecting diagnosis and treatment areas from the virus must be an urgent priority.
In Wales, this would mean scaling up the nation’s testing programme by between 1,000 and 1,900 tests a day.
Testing, together with enhanced infection control procedures and an adequate supply of PPE, will help protect patients and staff from COVID-19. The findings are released as Cancer Research UK launches a campaign highlighting the importance of COVID-19 testing to ensure all cancer services operate safely.
As part of its #SafeSpaces4CancerServices campaign, the charity is urging people to contact their elected representative to alert them to the impact that COVID-19 is having on cancer patients. Around 19,000 people a year are diagnosed with cancer in Wales.
Andy Glyde, Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager in Wales, said: “It’s deeply concerning that patients are not receiving the cancer diagnostic tests and treatment they need.
“This is partly due to people who have worrying symptoms not visiting their doctor because they’re frightened, they’ll become vulnerable to the virus when they go for tests in hospital.
“Cancer testing and some treatment has also significantly stalled due to the pandemic, putting lives at risk.
“To address this, we need to see COVID-19 testing efforts ramp up for staff and cancer patients so everyone has confidence that diagnosis and treatment areas are safe.
“In some cases, this would lead to lives being saved. Early diagnosis can significantly improve someone’s chances of survival. It’s crucial patients don’t wait for the pandemic to be over before they receive the treatment they need.
“This is why it’s essential we see all cancer services fully operational in Wales. This means taking action to quickly ramp up the number of virus tests offered.”
Find out more about the #SafeSpaces4CancerServices campaign here: bit.ly/2TCzWxF