Your clinical team may advise that you could be at higher risk of problems should you become unwell with COVID-19 in the coming weeks or months.
Earlier this year, the UK Government advice was for all people who were classed as ‘vulnerable’ to remain at home with strict precautions and to have minimal contact with others. This was referred to as ‘shielding’.
As the number of people with COVID-19 infections has fallen, the advice for shielding has been relaxed. From 6 July, you can go out to meet with up to six others (while maintaining social distancing) and you can form a support ‘bubble ‘ with one other household and spend time in each other’s homes. Until the end of July, you are eligible for centrally provided food boxes and the medicines delivery service.
From 1 August, the Government expects that the need for shielding will cease and so will the central resource for practical assistance described above. The national Volunteer Responders will continue to offer help, for example with short-term telephone support if you are feeling lonely, or for help with collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies that you need delivering to your home. You can ask for help by calling 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm.
Earlier this year, NHS England set up a national Shielded Patient List of all people who were classed as clinically vulnerable, which included many with a cancer diagnosis. This identified who was eligible for support while shielding. If your clinical team have informed you that you need to take precautions, your name will be added to the database. We have been asked to continue doing this even if shielding is relaxed because the situation could change again in the future.
Some people with cancer will need to remain cautious, especially if they are currently receiving treatment and are over the age of 70. When treatment finishes their risks reduce and they may be able to take a more relaxed approach. However, even though they are no longer on chemotherapy for example, they may still be at increased risk of COVID-19 complications because of the effects of the treatment and cancer. It is important that you discuss your circumstances with your specialist team.
As a Christie patient, we advise that you:
- follow the Government staying alert and safe guidance very carefully
- follow guidance on wearing face masks, avoid touching your face and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time, frequently through the day
- avoid unnecessary contact with others
- if you do need to shop, maintain your distance carefully
- avoid busy social environments, especially where others may not be following social distancing
At The Christie, we have put in place a number of steps to keep you as safe as we can when you need to attend for appointments and treatment. These will remain in place.
If you have finished treatment in the last 3 to 4 weeks and do develop any symptoms that could be attributed to your therapy, it is important you contact The Christie Hotline on 0161 446 3658, rather than 111.
Our staff members have detailed information about your case and your cancer that 111 does not have. We can provide better and more specific advice for you. Of course, you should dial 999 for any medical emergencies, as you would normally.
You might also find the following sources of information useful:
- NHS Health at Home: information about NHS services such as how to order repeat prescriptions online and get them delivered
- Looking after your mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Government advice on employment and financial support
If you wish to discuss anything in this letter please get in touch with your clinical team or call our Christie Hotline on 0161 446 3658. We know this is a worrying time for cancer patients and we are here to help you as much as possible.
About coronavirus and you
If you have symptoms associated with coronavirus including a new continuous cough and a high temperature or loss of taste and smell, you are advised to stay at home for 7 days.
Please do not book a GP appointment or attend your GP practice.
If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine.
But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they're at home for longer than 14 days. The most up-to-date public guidance is always on the NHS website.
If your symptoms are serious, or get worse, NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need further medical help and advise you what to do.
For patients who have appointments at The Christie and develop symptoms, please contact your specialist team and do not attend the hospital unless advised by them to do so.
If you are currently undergoing treatment and become unwell please ring The Christie Hotline on 0161 446 3658 rather than NHS 111 for initial guidance.
The level of virus activity is being monitored carefully across the country and here in Greater Manchester. As a system, and here at The Christie, we are prepared to take further precautions should these be needed through a flare up on new cases of people ill with COVID-19.
National guidance on maintaining cancer care during the pandemic can be found on the NHS website:
- Clinical guide for the management of essential cancer surgery for adults during the coronavirus pandemic
- Advice on maintaining cancer treatment during the COVID-19 response
- Clinical guide for the management of non-coronavirus patients who require acute treatment for cancer
Please refer to wider Government guidance through the Gov.UK coronavirus page for more information.