A rather grim topic, but one which is very relevant and that I feel needs highlighting. As some of you know my dad passed away at the end of last year from cancer. Much has been said about the new Covid-19 virus, where it came from, how it spreads, true mortality rates and death tolls, long term effects, vaccines, some rather wild conspiracy theories, etc.
What cannot be denied is that cancer is a big killer in the UK. Around 450 people a day die from cancer. It accounts for around a quarter of all UK deaths, give or take. The earlier you are diagnosed, the better your chances. My dad was diagnosed late thanks to the NHS telling him he had IBS or bowel inflammation (best health service in the world).
This stuck with me, especially in light of the corona virus pandemic. Hospitals have been virtually shut down except for corona cases. Screening appointments for all types of cancers have been cancelled or people are not turning up. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions have been cancelled, as well as more regular operations to remove tumours.
This also happened with various other conditions, treatments, and operations. A & E departments resemble the Marie Celeste. Doctors have been begging patients to return. Nurses with nothing to do paraded in endless Tik Tok videos while wearing full PPE. All the while we were told to clap for “our” NHS. Let us just say I was not amused. Health professionals used to say people were dying of embarrassment, due to not wanting to be poked and prodded by doctors if they had symptoms. Now I worry they will be dying of fear, terrified of going to a GP surgery or hospital because they do not want to catch Covid-19.
The extra capacity introduced into the NHS to stop it being “overwhelmed” was actually achieved by removing capacity for everything else. Everyone else who was sick has stayed away from seeking medical help. The “Dragon’s Heart,” i.e. The Principality Stadium has treated a handful of patients.
In the short-term the UK is now below the rolling five-year average of deaths for the time of year. However, I think that all those missed chemo sessions, treatment sessions and put off appointments are storing up a cancer time bomb further down the line. I fear we will get a spike in cancer deaths that will make the Covid tally look trivial. I know with cancer that time is everything.
Add to this the constant fearmongering we are still getting, such as the mask debacle. Endless dodgy information, such as cats becoming infected, along with the media pushing to keep the story on the front pages and politicians trying to make capital out of the crisis (Scotland, I’m looking at you), is reinforcing the message and inclination to stay at home and not seek treatment. This is not to ignore or belittle those who have died or their families. However, Covid deaths would have to quadruple to get near a year’s worth of cancer deaths.
If there is to be a public inquiry, I hope there is a focus on this issue. I will not hold my breath. There will likely be a focus on the BAME community because the virus is racist, and no doubt some Russian involvement. Something like this will probably be swept under the carpet so we can continue to worship our new god, the NHS. Politicians have well and truly taken their eyes off the ball in order to dance to the media’s tune.
© Jonathon Davies 2020
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