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Cancer treatments continuing where possible

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Those with a cancer diagnosis in the Isle of Man continue to be assessed by specialist teams, with a view to progressing surgeries and oncology treatments wherever possible. 

Individual cases are being reviewed in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to reduce hospital attendance, maintain social distancing and protect patients from the risk of infection. 

A surgical panel is assessing Island cancer patients on a weekly basis, with surgeries prioritised on a range of factors, including capacity within the hospital. 

Telephone consultations with specialists in the UK are being offered in place of usual clinic appointments where possible, and a video telemedicine link to the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is available for those who need to be seen face to face.  

The Oncology Day Unit on Island is also continuing to provide as many cancer treatments as possible, including chemotherapy, during the current period of increased demand on healthcare resources. 

An infrastructure failure temporarily impacted the production of some treatments in the isolation unit but the unit is now running at full capacity again. The situation was kept under close review with the support of Consultant Oncologists at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre during this time. 

Similar to the UK, some services for those with a suspected cancer had to be suspended temporarily due to the Covid-19 situation. Diagnostic clinics have been reinstated this week and the team is working to clear the backlog of patients awaiting their referral appointment as soon as possible. 

David Ashford MHK, Minister for Health and Social Care, said:

‘The Covid-19 pandemic is putting extra pressure on all areas of the health service. However, I want to reassure people that there has not been a blanket suspension of cancer surgeries and oncology treatments. Decisions are being made by specialist teams on a case-by-case basis.’ 

‘Cancer surgeries are still going ahead, although not necessarily in line with previous schedules because of theatre capacity. While oncology services are continuing, the production of treatments was impacted for a short period and as a result, some patients’ treatment plans were temporarily deferred. 

The Minister added:

‘The suspension of the symptomatic breast clinic was a temporary measure due to unavoidable circumstances. I am aware this caused distress for some of those waiting to be seen. Our specialist team did everything they could to support patients during this difficult time and are continuing to do so now the service is back up and running.’