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Resurgence in electronic cancer referrals as Covid-19 cases decline

GP electronic referrals for breast clinics are now similar to pre-Covid-19 rates after falling dramatically in late March, according to a new report.

E-referrals for prostate and lung rapid access clinics are also “showing some improvement”, the Report on the Social Implications of Covid-19 in Ireland – Update 5 June 2020 states.

GP e-referrals represent over 80 per cent of total referrals to symptomatic breast disease clinics, rapid access lung and prostate clinics.

In late March e-referrals from GPs to cancer rapid access clinics fell dramatically.  

“However, there has been significant recovery in the numbers of patients being referred to breast clinics in the last three weeks,” according to the report.

“The most recent data shows that e-referrals for breast clinics are now similar to pre-Covid  rates, while e-referrals for prostate and lung rapid access clinics are showing some improvement.”

Data from Healthlink shows that to date in 2020 there have been over 13,000 electronic breast cancer referrals, more than 1,100 prostate e-referrals and 640 lung e-referrals.

HSE information reveals monthly general e-referral usage by GPs fell significantly in March, but have since increased.

General e-referrals more than halved as a result of the pandemic, falling from 1,840 at the end of February to around 750 in April.

Lung cancer referrals, for instance, dropped to their lowest monthly number since 2018 in April, with 85 e-referrals made.

Prostate cancer and pigmented lesion e-referrals also fell significantly after the lockdown was introduced. A resurgence in cancer e-referrals occurred in May, data shows.

The National Cancer Control Programme on 9 June published advice on the safe reopening of cancer support services.

All cancer support services, including one to one counselling services, were forced to close due to the pandemic or move to providing services online.

GP electronic referrals for breast clinics are now similar to pre-Covid-19 rates after falling dramatically in late March, according to a new report.

E-referrals for prostate and lung rapid access clinics are also “showing some improvement”, the Report on the Social Implications of Covid-19 in Ireland – Update 5 June 2020 states.

GP e-referrals represent over 80 per cent of total referrals to symptomatic breast disease clinics, rapid access lung and prostate clinics.

In late March e-referrals from GPs to cancer rapid access clinics fell dramatically.  

“However, there has been significant recovery in the numbers of patients being referred to breast clinics in the last three weeks,” according to the report.

“The most recent data shows that e-referrals for breast clinics are now similar to pre-Covid  rates, while e-referrals for prostate and lung rapid access clinics are showing some improvement.”

Data from Healthlink shows that to date in 2020 there have been over 13,000 electronic breast cancer referrals, more than 1,100 prostate e-referrals and 640 lung e-referrals.

HSE information reveals monthly general e-referral usage by GPs fell significantly in March, but have since increased.

General e-referrals more than halved as a result of the pandemic, falling from 1,840 at the end of February to around 750 in April.

Lung cancer referrals, for instance, dropped to their lowest monthly number since 2018 in April, with 85 e-referrals made.

Prostate cancer and pigmented lesion e-referrals also fell significantly after the lockdown was introduced. A resurgence in cancer e-referrals occurred in May, data shows.

The National Cancer Control Programme on 9 June published advice on the safe reopening of cancer support services.

All cancer support services, including one to one counselling services, were forced to close due to the pandemic or move to providing services online.

As centres prepare to re-open, the document advises counselling services should continue remotely.

As centres prepare to re-open, the document advises counselling services should continue remotely.

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