Readers' letters: We must do more for blood cancer patients

"We cannot risk the UK becoming a two-tiered society with these patients receiving less protection”

Monday, 7th June 2021, 7:00 am
Stem cell research

We must do more for blood cancer patients

As Covid-19 restrictions ease, more than 110,000 people with blood cancer and blood disorders, including stem cell trans-plant patients, plan to shield.

Many are struggling with poorer mental health and in some cases are experiencing significant delays to their treatment. Anthony Nolan is warning that these patients are being left in the dark by the government.

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What makes the pan-demic more concerning for this group of patients is that they are immuno-compromised and more vulnerable to Covid-19.

Studies have found that 34 per cent of blood cancer patients who contracted the virus did not survive. This risk is substantially higher than in the general population.

Worryingly a recent study suggests that only 13 per cent of people with blood cancer had an antibody response after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.This is against a backdrop of a cancer backlog in the NHS. These patients were identified by the NHS as among the most vulnerable, yet, they have been forgotten during this pandemic.

We cannot risk the UK becoming a two-tiered society with these patients receiving less protection from approved vaccines and being forced to shield with little access to services or support. 

That’s why we are urging to government to do more for these patients. We’d like them to step up and fund more vital research to enable patients to return to normal life with the rest of the UK, and make certain that everybody that needs treatment, and support, can access it without delay.

Readers can write to their MP at anthonynolan.org/leftbehind, call the support line on 0303 303 0303 or visit anthonynolan.org.

Henny Braund, CEO, Anthony Nolan.

Scottish response to Covid commended

Ian Murray (Opinion, 3 May) fails to acknowledge that at the start of the Covid pandemic, Scotland had no choice but to follow the UK wide approach as under devolution we cannot control our borders or borrow money to compensate businesses and individuals during any restrictions.

Only when we diverged from Westminster did we get on top of matters yet the BBC has never reported the fact that Scotland has the lowest Covid death rate in Britain.

When Anas Sarwar repeated Labour’s claims about care home discharges, Channel Four’s Ciaran Jenkins referred to the Stirling University study last August which showed that excess deaths in care homes were higher in England and in Labour run Wales.

Our NHS is working much better than suggested by Ian Murray, as last week NHS Scotland reported that only 319 out of 18,630 planned operations in April were cancelled for the usual myriad of reasons.

On mental health, for the quarter ending March 2021, 18,030 people started psychological therapies treatment which is an increase of 5.9 percent from the previous quarter, and only a decrease of 1.3 percent from the same quarter last year, before Covid caused havoc, and half of these started their treatment within three weeks.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh.

Fears unfounded

Once again I’m very thankful for Jill Stephenson’s worries about both the Scottish government and SNP finances (various letters).

Maybe she is interested in membership? I’d be happy to pay her first month’s subscription.

Maybe, however, she would be better questioning the UK government and stopping this hypocrisy.

Roddy Watson, Orchard Bank, Edinburgh.