Consequences of the covid crisis on cancer patients
The journal Lancet Oncology last week predicted that delays in cancer treatment since March could lead to 3,500 avoidable cancer deaths in England in the next five years.
This could be the result of tests and treatments for cancer patients being postponed or the result of patients being too frightened to seek the treatment that they needed. Julie Grayston expressed her concern in an article in the Law Society Gazette this week. She said ‘there is likely to be a surge of cases, although currently people are reluctant to pursue the NHS. The problem will be whether the decision was correct at the time that treatment should stop or that people shouldn’t go to hospital. I think the fundamental issue is that the decision was made without any individual discussion to weigh up the risks of delaying treatment.’
Paul Rumley, chair of The Society of Clinical Injury lawyers agreed that there may be a problem yet to surface. He added ‘The balancing factor is whether the courts are prepared to allow such claims or whether defendants successfully argue it is a resources issue – that so much was being thrown at a pandemic that other services had to suffer, but that was reasonable and therefore excusable.’