South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge raised concerns about delays to cancer treatment. Picture: OFFICE OF JAMES CARTLIDGE
The government should draw up a new strategy to deal with coronavirus patients in specialist hospitals – freeing up existing hospitals to deal with other conditions to make sure there is no further health emergency, a Suffolk MP has said.
South Suffolk’s James Cartlidge raised the plight of cancer patients who faced delays to treatment or diagnosis as a result of the Covid-19 emergency – a situation that has led to fears that 18,000 extra cancer patients could die because of delays to treatment.
He asked: “What more can we do to free up the NHS so that our constituents with cancer and other serious non-Covid conditions can start being treated again as soon as possible and in significant numbers?”
Mr Raab said: “It is because we have taken the right measures at the right time that we have flattened the peak of this virus. We have prevented the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.
“The strategy that we have delivered has meant the NHS has had capacity to deal with not just Covid-19 patients but other urgent treatments and he is also right to say that as we move forwards towards a second phase that we must plan to ensure that the NHS is able to deliver elective surgery and treat patients with other conditions which is exactly what we are planning to do.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Cartlidge said: “We may want to look at using the Nightingale Hospitals as Covid centres in some areas and freeing other hospitals for other non-Covid work, or doing it the other way around.
“I don’t know if that would be appropriate for all cases – but I know there are those treating people in Suffolk who are concerned to ensure that those with other potentially serious conditions are not getting the treatment they need as soon as they need it.”
Earlier in April the chief executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, Nick Hulme, expressed concern at the fall in the number of people using the hospitals’ A&E departments – fearing that some serious cases could be missed.
Mr Cartlidge hoped that with the numbers of people in hospital with Covid-19 falling, it would be possible for more patients with other serious conditions to be treated across the country.
Published by the East Anglian Daily Times.