Almost a third of cancer patients have reported receiving worse care since COVID-19 began, according to a new survey commissioned by PIF member Cancer Research UK.

NHS staff have worked tirelessly throughout the crisis and many cancer patients have reported positive experiences of COVID-19 safety protocols.

However Cancer Research UK says the impact of COVID-19 on cancer services and cancer patients has been devastating.

The charity hopes the survey results will encourage governments to secure more long-term funding for cancer care in the UK.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “COVID-19 hit the health system hard and cancer services suffered as a result, but even before the pandemic struck cancer targets were not being met. 

"And now, for the first time in decades, we’re faced with the fact that cancer survival could go backwards.”

Key findings

Nine hundred cancer patients were surveyed between December 2020 and March 2021. The survey found:

  • 29% experienced delays, cancellations or changes to their treatment.
  • 84% recalled their care as being 'very good' prior to the pandemic.
  • 31% have subsequently downgraded their rating.
  • 12% felt their 'very good' care had slipped to 'average' or below

For many patients COVID-19 has led to an increased emotional toll.

Almost two thirds of cancer patients reported feeling more frustrated and anxious during the pandemic.

Some patients faced additional trauma due to decisions around cancer treatments and surgery being made last minute.

Cancer Research UK