Winchester & Chandler’s Ford MP, Steve Brine, spoke about the consequences of Covid-19 on breast cancer patients during a Commons debate on Thursday 12 November.
The MP, who previously served as Cancer Minister, said that although advances in research and investment have saved many lives some 115,000 women have lost their battle with the disease in the past decade across the UK.
Mr Brine spoke movingly about the negative impact on emotional well-being of patients and their families as a result of breast cancer treatment being paused or changed during the first phase of the pandemic.
He said; “Never has access to Clinical Nurse Specialists been more important yet we’ve heard from Breast Cancer Now that some 41% of patients felt they had less contact during the coronavirus outbreak.
“I want Ministers to update us on the steps being taken to achieve the NHS Long-Term Plan commitment that, by 2021, all patients including those with secondary breast cancer will have access to a CNS.”
And he revealed how local breast screening services were suspended for seventeen weeks earlier this year after guidance from the NHS.
“I fear this could be one of the terrible legacies of lockdown”, he said “but the good news is the restoration of breast screening services is well underway and I pay great tribute to the team at Hampshire Hospitals for that.”
Finally, the MP used the timing of the debate to highlight the fact HHFT have had to stop screening self-referrals for women over 71 which he said was proving extremely contentious.
“I have constituents who called the unit at our hospital to make an appointment only to be told the over-70 age group has been put on hold and to phone back in 2021. This is not the Trust’s fault, it is NHS eligibility criteria it’s something we need to overcome given the discrimination it presents and the worry it is causing.”
Responding for the Government, Health Minister Jo Churchill stressed her determination to work through the backlog and ensure there is no repeat of people being kept away from cancer services during the second wave. And she reiterated the commitment to meet the objectives in the cancer workforce plan to open up access to Cancer Nurse Specialists.
Pictured; Steve Brine speaking in the debate today.