Vaccine Push Could Leave Up to 5,000 Cancer Cases Undiagnosed
Around 5,000 undiagnosed cases of cancer may be missed each month as a result of the UK government’s new Covid booster programme.
The government has redirected general practitioners (GPs) away from their normal services as part of their new COVID booster campaign, with GPs being told to delay all non-urgent appointments in order to have more time to put more jabs in arms. While hospitals have also been told to axe some supposedly non-urgent surgeries.
Speaking on the subject, Health Secretary Sajid Javid admitted that there would be disruptions to normal services, and that GPs “will only be focusing on urgent needs and vaccination” and some supposedly non-urgent surgeries “may have to be postponed” in order for doctors to prioritise administering boosters.
Javid emphasised that, despite the plan, cancer patients would be completely unaffected, and that anyone with cancer symptoms would still be able to be checked within two weeks.
However, according to a report by The Telegraph, around 5,000 cases of cancer a month are only detected after a referral from a GP, during appointments in which cancer is not suspected. As a result, it is feared that the government’s deferment of non-urgent surgeries could result in a number of these cases going undetected.
The National Audit Office has also estimated that between 240,000 and 740,000 patients had missed urgent GP referrals for suspected cancer cases during the pandemic.
“People affected by cancer can’t afford any more delays,” the head of public affairs and campaigning at Cancer Research UK, Shaun Walsh, told The Telegraph. “NHS leaders must protect cancer services and ensure that everyone gets the diagnosis and treatment they need for the best chance of survival, because cancer won’t wait.”
As part of the government’s expansion of its booster programme, it was announced last month that the amount paid to GPs for administering vaccines would be increased, with GPs now to be paid up to £30 per jab.
Meanwhile, those who refuse a booster are set to eventually have their Covid Passes cancelled, even if they had previously been considered fully vaccinated.
Speaking on the cancellations, Javid said that the exemption from showing a lateral flow test for various services would be restricted to only those who have been boosted “once all adults have had a reasonable chance to get their booster jab”.
On Tuesday night, Parliament voted in favour of making vaccination mandatory for NHS staff.