People in East Lancashire have been urged to attend vitally important cancer appointments if asked to by their GP.
Cancer specialists have reported a rise in cancellations of appointments to see people with suspected cancers.
But health bosses have urged people to keep these appointments and assured them that everything is being done to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 when visiting hospitals for urgent procedures.
All patients with suspected cancer are referred for an urgent appointment at the hospital, which can either rule out the presence of the disease or pick it up early and allow for urgent investigations and treatment to begin.
Dr Neil Smith, a Blackburn with Darwen GP who is the cancer lead for East Lancashire NHS, said: “Although we are in lockdown and many things have closed temporarily, some things of vital importance continue. If you have been fast-tracked for investigations into potential cancer, it is vitally important you do everything to attend that appointment.
“The hospital has taken steps to minimise the risk to patients and will try to do as many appointments as possible by video or telephone. However it is very important to undergo investigations where someone may have developed cancer and this can only be done at the hospital or in certain community venues.
“We cannot help people and try to rule out cancer unless we get them to have these investigations. We must carry on and try to diagnose cancer so we can start treatment early.”
Measures being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection at the hospital include all patients going to appointments being asked whether they have any symptoms on arrival and distancing measures have been taken to keep people apart. Hand santizers are located by all entrances and are being monitored.
Only those who have an urgent need to be in the hospital have been given appointments, therefore there are no busy waiting rooms and waiting times will be kept to an absolute minimum.