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Alsters Kelley - Medical Negligence: The Next Pandemic

Alsters Kelley - Medical Negligence: The Next Pandemic

COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. The impact has been huge in almost every aspect of our day, from work to education, mental health, and family life. But the consequences from this pandemic may yet be even more far-reaching for many thousands of people, already dealing with a tremendous upheaval in their lives. As the situation for cancer patients worsens, will medical negligence be the next pandemic?

Delays in diagnosing cancer will result in more severe cases

The impact of COVID-19 on normal GP and hospital services has been well-documented in the news. Fewer people are attending their GP with worries, which has meant fewer referrals to hospitals. For some conditions this is an inconvenience, but when you are worried about the risk of cancer, a delay could have more severe consequences.

Cancer Research UK report that it is not just patients avoiding the GP that is impacting diagnosis. Some GPs are avoiding referring patients to hospital and delaying diagnostic tests. Normal routine screening, such as cervical screening, was postponed across the UK during lockdown. The number of urgent referrals is slowly rising but remains far below the usual volume. With a growing backlog in identifying new cancer cases, there is a serious risk that patients will suffer far more than they would if treatment were started earlier.

Ongoing treatment delays

It is not only new cases that are affected. Existing cancer patients have found that their ongoing treatment has been impacted by cancellations or delays due to the pandemic. A survey conducted by Cancer Research in May found that one in three patients say their treatment had been affected, such as having to undergo radiotherapy instead of surgery, or having surgeries cancelled altogether.

Sadly, while COVID-19 pandemic slows services, some patients’ conditions will continue to deteriorate. Halting treatment will only worsen the impact and more cancer patients may receive a worse, or even terminal, prognosis.

The next pandemic

Statistics from cancer charities are demonstrating the size of the problem already. Bowel Cancer UK report that by June the impact on screening “equates to 1,350 undiagnosed bowel cancer cases.” Research by the University College London Institute of Health and HDR UK featured on a recent Panorama programme, Britain’s Cancer Crisis, predicted an additional 18,000 deaths from cancer which could be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scale of the issue may not yet be clear. What is also not yet clear is how this will impact on the NHS, and whether patients and their families may feel that their prognosis has been impacted or worsened unnecessarily. Could the NHS soon be facing a wave of claims for medical negligence?

If you are concerned that your diagnosis and treatment may have been delayed and would like some preliminary advice, please contact us for an informal discussion. Our first step will be to request copies of your medical records on your behalf.

Our offices cover Leamington, Coventry, Nuneaton, and Southam.

Contact us on 01926 356072 or by email at to arrange an appointment.





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With effect from Monday 15th June

We continue to remain open for business. Following recent updates to the Government guidelines, clients with effect from Monday 15th June will be able to attend our offices.

Please note this will be by appointment only and these must be booked in advance to ensure we are able to maintain social distancing measures.

To make an appointment please call any one of our offices: Leamington Spa 01926 356000, Coventry 02477 710200, Nuneaton 02477 710000 or Southam 01926 359355.

Alternatively, if you prefer then please email

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