Frontline workers and support for cancer sufferers
- Credit: PA
Keeping the city running
Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell writes:
Workers in frontline services in London – from TfL staff to police and firefighters along with teachers and people delivering food and mail need to be protected from coronavirus rapidly.
Prioritising vaccination for the people keeping the city running is a sensible step once NHS workers and the most vulnerable groups have been reached. I asked Transport for London for figures on deaths for their workers last summer, and was shocked to see the majority were Black or Asian. We now know that 60 TfL workers have died in total, and that a full 10% of their workers are off sick. There is a clear need to protect workers in jobs like this.
Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England has put forward the idea of combining the risk of working in certain jobs with other risk factors, so that people who are exposed and vulnerable to the virus are reached as a priority. I welcome thinking like this, both to protect those most exposed to risk, and to keep the vital services of London running.
Once the most vulnerable have been protected, we need to start vaccinating frontline workers as a priority.
Support is there
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Emma Tingley, head of Partnerships, Macmillan Cancer Support, London, writes:
The start of 2021 is proving to be an acutely challenging time for people with cancer, the NHS and for cancer care. It’s clear that this is the most worrying time in recent history to get a cancer diagnosis.
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At Macmillan, people are calling our support line every day to tell us about the distress they are feeling. On our support line – open seven days a week, 8am – 8pm, on 0808 808 00 00 – specially trained nurses, counsellors and financial support advisors are available to help anyone affected by, or worried about, cancer.
We know doctors and nurses are working in unspeakably difficult conditions and are having to make tough decisions every day. Healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to keep cancer care on track, but we also know that some treatment – operations, for example – are being cancelled or postponed because essential services such as ITU are full of seriously ill people with Covid-19.
What is absolutely vital is that if there are changes to treatment plans, these must involve the person living with cancer and be communicated clearly.
Although some changes may be needed for treatment plans, this is not always the case. Healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to make hospitals safe so it’s really important that people with cancer who have been invited for tests or treatment do attend.
GPs are open if you are worried about possible cancer symptoms, and screening and other vital tests have resumed in a Covid-safe way. The NHS is still here for you.
As well as our support line, comprehensive cancer information and support, including our latest guidance on the impact of coronavirus on cancer care is also available on macmillan.org.uk and our online community is there to provide invaluable emotional and peer support.
We are doing whatever it takes to make sure our vital support continues to be available. We urge the public to do their bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus, which will in turn relieve pressure on the NHS.