I very much understand and appreciate how Coronavirus has affected and delayed cancer patients receiving the urgent treatment that they need and how this is distressing for many families. I am fully supportive of safe spaces being set up within hospitals so that treatments can continue in a safe environment. As a result of the pandemic, it may be that doctors consider the risks of certain treatments, particularly those that weaken the immune system, to be of much greater risk than normal. Patients with cancer visit hospitals regularly, but for those who are particularly vulnerable, this is more risky than usual as it may result in exposure to the virus.
I was delighted when, on 27 April, my colleague the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced the restoration of NHS services, starting with the most urgent, like cancer care and mental health support. The NHS is open for business, and anyone who needs care and treatment should continue to access it as and when they need it, especially when delays could impose both an immediate and a long term risk to health. Any changes to treatment protocol to ensure patients are treated safely should be carried out in full consultation with patients, to ensure that they fully understand the reasoning behind any changes made in line with guidance from clinical experts.
I have also raised this with the relevant Minister to ensure that safe spaces are set up within hospitals so that patients can receive the urgent treatment they need in a safe environment as soon as possible.