3rd August 2020

‘Covid-friendly’ cancer treatments to be made available by NHS

View all Treatment

The NHS has injected £160 million into Covid-friendly cancer treatments, thanks to a series of deals struck between the NHS and pharma companies it has announced today.

The initiative could allow patients to ‘swap’ existing treatments for safer alternatives, such as drugs that don’t have such a big impact on the immune system or that require lengthy hospital visits.

This could allow patients can take tablets at home or receive medicines with fewer side-effects instead of undergoing hospital-based treatment that can leave them more susceptible to coronavirus and other infections.

Thousands of people living with cancer have already benefitted from almost 50 treatments approved for use as ‘swaps’ for existing drugs, with more being made available this week.

Simon Stevens is the chief executive for NHS England:

“Since the first case of Covid in England six months ago, NHS staff have fast tracked new, innovative ways of working so that other services, including A&E, cancer and maternity could continue safely for patients and it is thanks to these incredible efforts that 65,000 people could start treatment for cancer during the pandemic.

“We are now adopting new, kinder treatment options which are not only effective but safer for use during the Covid-19 pandemic and more convenient for thousands of patients, who can take medication at home or be given medicines with less harmful effects on their immune system.”

Funding will ensure that thousands of patients can continue to receive safe, effective and kinder treatment during the pandemic, often with fewer hospital visits.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, welcomes the news:

“Cancer was not cancelled during the pandemic, so this is a vital expansion of services.

Being diagnosed with cancer is terrifying, but when a patient learns there are ways to treat, they are given hope. And when that treatment is shown to be working, people go from dying from cancer to living with it.

The fact that some people then had this taken away as a result of the pandemic is heart breaking. Now, we hope more people will get to continue with treatments and continue to live well with cancer.”

For more information about the newly available treatments, speak to your lung cancer team or contact our Ask the Nurse on 0800 358 7200 or lungcancerhelp@roycastle.org.