Posted: Mon 4th May 2020

Meet the NHS workers providing urgent cancer and emergency care in North Wales during the coronavirus pandemic

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Monday, May 4th, 2020

As part of the response to the outbreak of coronavirus, the region’s health board has outlined how it is prioritising patients across North Wales who are in need of urgent care.

Staff at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are working hard to ensure they can still provide treatment for high priority cases, including cancer patients.

Palanichamy Chandran, a consultant general and colorectal surgeon who has worked at Wrexham Maelor Hospital for 15 years, said a huge amount of planning had gone into the process.

He said: “With elective surgery currently cancelled we are focusing solely on our patients who are in need of urgent cancer treatment.

“I’m really pleased to say that we have continued to provide these operations for our patients so far, and are taking every precaution to ensure our patients are safe during their stay in hospital.

“We understand it’s an anxious time for our patients who are now coming in for their surgery without their families support due to the visiting restrictions in place.

“As a team we will ensure all our patients receive the support and care they need during their time with us.”

Mandana Pennick, a consultant breast surgeon at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is continuing to provide an easy access clinic for people to undergo tests to decide whether a breast lump or abnormality is benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancerous), as well as performing cancer surgery.

She said: “We have continued to provide the clinic for our patients twice a week to ensure we are still seeing those who may need urgent treatment after a diagnosis of breast cancer.

“We are also utilising our virtual breast clinic which was set up last year where our patients, who may be concerned with their wound for example, can send through a photo securely to a dedicated email address which we can then assess.

“Myself, and many of the staff in the clinic and surgical teams have undergone re-training so we are ready to step up to help our colleagues on intensive care if the need arises, but in the meantime we are continuing to provide urgent care to those patients who need it most.”

She said risk assessments were carried out to ensure people who need an operation still receive one.

Consultant gynaecological surgeons Richard Peevor and Rosalind Jones at Ysbyty Gwynedd said all gynae cancer patients have received their operations during the pandemic.

Mr Peevor said: “We have been working hard to ensure we can provide an efficient gynae cancer service across North Wales during this unprecedented time.

“The way we carry out our clinics have changed, we are now providing a lot more telephone consultations to reduce the need for our patients to come into hospital.”

However, Miss Jones said she was concerned as the number of referrals for post-menopausal bleeding had reduced since the start of the pandemic.

She said: “I am worried there are some women at home with symptoms of post-menopausal bleeding and not going to see their GP.

“We have seen a drop in the number of referrals for this condition so I would urge anyone who has these symptoms to contact their GP as soon as possible.”

As well as cancer surgery, trauma teams across North Wales are still treating patients who attend hospital in need of emergency treatment, such as a broken hip.

Ibrahim Malek, a consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, said: “During the lockdown period falls and injuries at home, especially in the elderly, are continuing and we have also seen a slight increase in DIY related injuries.

“Emergency trauma is still being provided as normal. We have a dedicated team led by specialist consultants available seven days a week now to provide the best treatment without any delay.”

Oliver Blocker, consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, who joined Ysbyty Gwynedd at the beginning of March, added: “We always keep patient safety at the forefront of our minds, especially during these times.

“We continue to provide an emergency service for our patients but I would urge the public to stay safe, and to take extra care when carrying out any DIY at home.”

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