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Project #29:
Monitoring Attendance INvestigations Referrals and OUTcomEs related to Cancer in the NHS through the COVID-19 era (MAINROUTE).

  • Type: Service evaluation
  • Topic areas: Other/indirect impacts of COVID on health/healthcare

Health care and the way we consult doctors has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Many more appointments with doctors (GPs) have been over the telephone instead of in person. Many routine appointments, blood tests, cancer screening and non-urgent treatment have been cancelled in both GP practices and in hospitals. Urgent cancer referrals reduced dramatically.

However, it is unlikely that patients have stopped having symptoms. It is more likely that people have been avoiding going to the doctors or to the hospital. This may be because they do not want to bother doctors or nurses at this time of higher workload, or they are not sure that GPs are available to deal with non-COVID problems or they are worried about catching the virus. This could mean that there may be a build-up of medical problems in the community. Delays in the diagnosis or treatment of conditions such as cancer may cause longer-term health problems for some groups of patients. As social distancing rules are relaxed, and life starts to return to normal, doctors will need to ‘catch-up’ on clinical care for a wide range of conditions.

This study will track changes in the number of people visiting their GP for symptoms of cancer, the number of tests done, numbers of hospital appointments and longer-term outcomes focussing on cancer. We will present the data so that GP and hospital staff will be able to see which disease areas or groups of patients that will be most in need.