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Cancer services - Covid-19 information

Cancer services

We want you to know that transmission of COVID at CUH is very low, and both patients and staff are being routinely tested for the virus. You are encouraged to come in for your scheduled appointment and not delay further. If you have concerns about COVID risks, please contact your treating team. When you do come in, please bear in mind that we are trying to minimise the number of visitors to keep patients and staff safe, so please attend on your own if possible. A companion is welcome to wait in the car park or outside of the hospital, and join you at a time agreed with your clinical team. If you need support to attend, please arrange this in advance with your clinical team.

Additional dose of the vaccine / booster vaccine

The Government will advise on additional vaccine doses / booster vaccines. Once announced you will be contacted by your GP or local vaccine centre inviting you for the appropriate vaccine; the vaccine will not routinely be available to you at the hospital. If you are having cancer treatment your specialist will advise you about when is the best time to have any vaccination.

If you are not contacted by your GP / local vaccine centre you can make a self-referral and provide information regarding your medical condition and medication that would make you immunosuppressed and thus eligible for any additional dose of the primary course. This might include a copy of relevant hospital letters, or proof of medication for example.

If you are still unable to get any advised vaccine please contact your clinical team who will be able to provide you with a supporting letter to take to a vaccination centre.

If you would like more information about the Covid vaccines and boosters for cancer patients please see:

  • Cancer Research UK information on Covid vaccines and boosters.
  • JCVI guidance for vaccinating severely immunosuppressed individuals with a third primary dose.
Covid tests prior to treatment

For patients attending the oncology and haematology day units

The Trust has stopped ordering postal PCR tests. However as part of our continued commitment to ensuring a COVID –secure pathway in Oncology and Haematology Day Units, all patients are required to complete a lateral flow test before attending any appointment in our day units.

We are asking our patients to self-administer a test within 24hours of any appointment and report their results online https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result.

On arrival for your appointment you will be asked to verify a negative result. If you don’t have internet access please bring the test with you to your appointment.

You can order lateral flow kits via the government website – https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

Please contact the unit if you are having difficulty obtaining lateral flow tests.

If you have a positive lateral flow result please do not attend your appointment and contact the unit to obtain further instruction.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms (cough, temperature or loss of taste or small) but have a negative lateral flow test result, please call the unit for advice before attending for your appointment.

Oncology Day Unit: 01223 217099

Haematology Day Unit: 01223 217720

All patients requiring chemotherapy or treatment will be contacted and booked to either Oncology or Haematology Day Unit. You do not need to enter the main hospital to enter the Oncology or Haematology Day Units, each have a separate entrance. If you have any COVID symptoms before you are due for treatment please contact the appropriate treatment unit.

For radiotherapy patients

Before you attend for your Radiotherapy planning CT appointment, please complete a lateral flow test. If the result is negative then please attend your appointment as scheduled. You will be asked by the reception team to confirm that your lateral flow test result is negative.

Once you start treatment, please complete a lateral flow test each Monday and Wednesday. If the result is negative then please attend your appointment as scheduled. You will be asked by the reception team to confirm that your lateral flow test result is negative.

If your lateral flow test is positive then please phone the department on 01223 216634 so that arrangements can be made to change your appointment to be at the end of the day.

If you do not have any lateral flow tests at home, please let us know and we will arrange for you to be given a test on arrival in the department.

If you have any queries regarding the process please call Radiotherapy on 01223 216634.

For Patients being admitted to our wards

If you need to be admitted to a ward from the Emergency Department or Cancer Assessment Unit, a healthcare professional will ask your permission to take a swab of your nose and throat to test for Covid 19, before you are transferred to a ward bed.

If your admission is planned you will be given instructions on when and where to attend to have a swab taken before your admission.

Location for receiving chemotherapy

All patients requiring chemotherapy or treatment will be contacted and booked to either Oncology or Haematology Day Unit. You do not need to enter the main hospital to enter the Oncology or Haematology Day Units, each have a separate entrance. If you have any COVID symptoms before you are due for treatment please contact the appropriate treatment unit.

Timing and location of the blood test service

The following options are available for patients requiring a blood test:

Newmarket Road Park-n-Ride

This drop-in service is available between 09:30 and 16:30, Monday to Fridays, to anyone who has medical paperwork or a request on the hospital computer system confirming that they need a blood test. Anyone without this, will be turned away. You can read more here . We encourage patients to use this service to keep the number of patients entering the hospital at a minimum.

Oncology & Haematology Outpatients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital

In order to maintain social distancing in the waiting area an appointments system will be operating. To book an appointment, call the Administration team on 01223 217393. However, for bloods immediately prior to face to face appointments, patients can attend the clinic for bloods 1 hour prior to their appointment time without a booking. Following their blood tests, patients may then be asked to leave the area in order to manage numbers in the waiting area; they can then return to the waiting area 10 minutes prior to their clinic appointment time.

GP Surgeries or Local Hospitals

If you have an agreement for your bloods to be taken at your GP or local hospital, please inform your clinical team and ask them to place an order for external bloods and either give you in person or by post a printed form detailing the tests that need to be taken. When attending for the blood test at the GP or local hospital please ask them to report results to the administration team add-tr.Oncocladmin@nhs.net, please note this is a ‘no-reply’ email address, 24-72 hours before your appointment time.

Ely Pilot Scheme

From 19th February 2021, a pilot scheme offers appointments for patients in the local area at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely on Fridays between 8:30am – 4:00pm. (Note: this service has been paused and will hopefully restart 2022).

For bloods prior to a phone or video consultation, patients will need to have their bloods taken 24-72 hours prior to their booked consultation.

A member of the administration team will contact you to make arrangements to have your bloods taken and you will be offered attendance at the above sites. If you have not heard from anyone 72 hours prior to your clinic appointment, please call the Administration team01223 217393 who will be happy to assist.

Imaging Department (X-ray, CT, MRI, PET, Ultrasound)

Due to COVID 19, the Imaging Department is experiencing a reduction in its normal capacity. This is to keep patients and staff safe. Extra resources to support are being arranged. Patients may be sent appointments to be scanned at other locations such as independent hospitals and vans. The Department is continuing to see patients for urgent diagnostic tests, but there are waiting times for surveillance scans. It is really important that patients accept appointments at other locations as the Department does not know when patients can be booked to attend Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

To reduce risks for patients waiting for surveillance scans, the Imaging Department and Clinical Teams are continually reviewing patients on waiting lists and prioritising scans for those at higher risk of a cancer recurrence. Due to numbers involved it is not possible to keep all of those waiting informed of their likely scan date and time. Please feel assured that you will receive a date at a time in the future; however, if you become concerned contact your clinical team for information and support.

Due to the increased number of scans taking place to recover the backlog of requests, there is currently a delay in scans being reported by Radiologists. This has impacted on some cancer surveillance scans not being reported in time for outpatient appointments which we understand can be very distressing. While we have implemented a new system to prioritise these scans so they can be reported in time for your outpatient appointment, this remains a slower process than pre-Covid time and your patience is greatly appreciated.

Surgery

There may be surgery delays because our COVID safety approach means we had to reduce capacity e.g. allowing time for deep cleaning. We are addressing this by using theatres in private hospitals but capacity is not back to normal yet. Patients waiting are being reviewed on a case by case basis by their treating team and prioritised accordingly. If your surgery has been delayed and you experience new symptoms or feel concerned, please contact your treating team.

Worried you may have cancer?

Please contact your GP. If you have been referred to CUH by your GP, it is really important that you attend the first offered appointment.

Cancer Support Team

The Cancer Support Team can be contacted Monday to Friday, 09:00-16:00, on 01223 274801 and can support you with any non-medical issues you may be dealing with as a result of a cancer diagnosis or the cancer treatment you are going through.

You can also contact the Cancer Support online. See https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/our-services/cancer-services/cancer-support-services/, as well as by email on add-tr.Information-Support@nhs.net. This account is checked daily and we will make every effort to respond as quickly as possible to any queries.

For any clinical enquiries, please contact your clinical team as normal.

For financial or benefits advice, please contact the Macmillan benefits advisors on 0345 600 6257 or macmillanbenefits@suffolk.gov.uk

For further support you can access the main Macmillan website on www.macmillan.org.uk or contact them on 0808 808 0000.

Helpful documents and links

Frequently Asked Questions (see below) – generated by the Cancer Patient Partnership Group

Frequently Asked Questions Cancer Services at Addenbrooke’s Hospital COVID-19 Pandemic

Teenage Cancer Trust

Cancer Research UK also has specific information for cancer patients.

It includes:

  • How can cancer and treatment weaken immunity?
  • What’s the advice for people with cancer (who have no symptoms of coronavirus)?
  • What do I do if I have symptoms?

Cancer Care Map - Search by postcode for cancer support services in your area.

East of England Cancer Alliance - Frequently Asked Questions in response to COVID-19 for cancer patients