‘I felt abandoned’ – patient describes pandemic backlog experience

·1-min read
Shirley Cochrane (PA) (PA Wire)
Shirley Cochrane (PA) (PA Wire)

A patient who was recovering from cancer treatment was told to “self-manage” after the pandemic struck, MPs have heard.

Shirley Cochrane, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, described how she felt “abandoned” when the pandemic hit.

Ms Cochrane, from Essex had treatment for a year after her diagnosis.

I feel like I've been abandoned by the health service throughout the pandemic

Shirley Cochrane

After this she was told she would have six-monthly check-ups with a breast surgeon or an oncologist for five years, a yearly mammogram and be prescribed a drug to take for five years.

“But at the start of the pandemic I received a letter informing me that I now had to self-manage,” she told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee.

“There was no guidance on what exactly self-management meant.

“So at that point I was just left on my own to get on with it.”

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

She added: “I got a letter at the start of the pandemic telling me that all my six-monthly checks were cancelled.

“I’ve had no contact at all with my surgeon or my oncologist who provided the treatment, throughout that time I’ve had no official discharge, I’ve had no appointments with my GP.”

Ms Cochrane continued: “I feel like I’ve been abandoned by the health service throughout the pandemic.

“Like someone’s just literally pulled a security blanket away from underneath me.”

She said that at the start of the pandemic she had concerns about having a lump and could not access help through “any of the generic numbers” and only managed to get an appointment after contacting her MP – Home Secretary Priti Patel who helped secure her a telephone appointment.

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