You will be aware of the evolving situation with an outbreak of respiratory infections caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID19). The NHS, including the Rosemere Cancer Centre at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, and Public Health England are extremely well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The Rosemere Cancer Centre is following up-to-date Public Health England guidance for the coronavirus outbreak.
Patients currently receiving chemotherapy or immunotherapy
If you feel you may have any COVID-19 symptoms such as:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature (37.8 degrees centigrade or higher)
- or if you have been tested positive for COVID-19
please call the Chemotherapy hotline on 01772 523205. This is available 7 days a week 24 hours a day. There are likely to be a number of calls so please do bear with us.
We will want to make sure that any temperature is not due to your chemotherapy making you at risk of infections other than COVID19 so it is really important that you call the hotline and do not just self-isolate without telling us. We will need to make certain your blood count is normal and that if you need antibiotics for a bacterial infection that you get them quickly.
Please don’t just turn up in the department without telling us as you could be putting yourself, the staff and other patients at risk.
Patients currently receiving chemotherapy or immunotherapy with no symptoms
Your treatment may continue as planned or there may be some alterations which will be discussed with you. If for example, the risk of continuing is potentially higher than giving you a break from treatment, this may be recommended. Your clinic appointment may also be changed to a telephone rather than face to face.
If you live with others and one of them has symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members should stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. You should call the Chemotherapy day case unit (Preston 01772 522056 or Chorley 01257 245102) to let us know that you have been in contact but are well. The 14 day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. If someone has serious symptoms and they cannot manage at home, they should use the NHS 111 online (people should only call NHS111 if they cannot get online) Further advice about symptom management and self-isolation can be found here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict regulations. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of the hospital and returned home also in isolation. Any equipment that comes into contact with suspected cases is thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority.
All other patients with no symptoms
Your next appointment may change to a telephone follow up appointment and if this is the case, you will be called about this ahead of your appointment. Please have any blood tests you would normally have ahead of an appointment as usual.
If you need to pick up oral cancer medication you usually get from the hospital, you will be told where to pick this up from which will mean you will have a much shorter period of time actually at the hospital. You may also ask someone else to get this for you as long as you have told us in advance who this is and they bring identification with them
If you have had chemotherapy within the last 3 months, your immune system may still be recovering and you should follow the advice from Public Health England to self-isolate.
Radiotherapy on its own without chemotherapy does not usually affect the immune system and will not itself make you more at risk of infection
Patients about to start radiotherapy
Some types of cancer can safely have their radiotherapy delayed. For example men with prostate cancer are usually on treatment called hormone manipulation and keeps the cancer under control until we can start the radiotherapy.
We do not want to start a course of treatment that will last several weeks and put you and the staff at risk of infection. To Minimise this risk your treatment start may be deferred or the number of treatments you were expecting may change. We have a lot of experience of different and safe schedules of radiotherapy and are keeping to national guidance from the Royal College of Radiologists to make sure we can treat your cancer effectively and safely in the fewest number of treatments.
Patients currently receiving radiotherapy
- who are a contact of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, but feel well
- who have symptoms of COVID-19
- who have tested positive for COVID-19
must not attend for treatment without speaking to us first.
Please contact the department on 01772 528183 – this number connects to the administration team who will pass your details to the appropriate Oncology professional. Please do not come to your treatment.
Dependant on your individual circumstances you will be advised whether to attend for treatment or to follow current guidance from Public Health England to self-isolate.
- If you are advised to self-isolate, you will be asked to contact the department toward the end of your isolation period so that arrangements can be made to restart treatment. You may find we need to adjust the total number of treatments after the break
- If your treatment is to continue you will be given details of our dedicated radiotherapy machine, asked to use a separate entrance and you will be treated by staff in protective equipment
Dr Alison J Birtle MRCP FRCR MD
Consultant Oncologist Rosemere Cancer Centre