Understanding and learning from the impact of changes in colorectal cancer care delivery in light of COVID-19 and their interplay with socioeconomic inequalities University of Surrey

  • Led by the University of Surrey, in partnership with University College London, North Central London Cancer Alliance, Bart’s Health NHS Trust, NHS Highland, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, Royal Surrey NHS Trust and Improving Cancer Care Action Group.
  • Research to help understand the impact of changes in health service delivery on cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Will use colorectal cancer as an exemplar and consider how these changes are likely to impact socioeconomic inequalities in cancer care.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in rapid changes to health service delivery, with important implications for cancer care. These changes influence the way in which someone can contact their GP, how people are tested for cancer, how teams come together to determine the best treatment plan, and what type of treatment is offered.

Some of these changes will be advantageous to patients (for example, more flexibility), but there are also challenges, and some changes may be beneficial for some and not others. For example, being able to access health care remotely requires a smartphone or a computer, which many do not possess or cannot fully use.

Another important consideration is that people from more deprived areas of the UK have worse cancer outcomes than people in less deprived areas (the deprivation gap). There is concern that the rapid changes in care during COVID-19 could have increased the deprivation gap in cancer care.

This research project will use colorectal cancer as an exemplar to help understand the impact of changes in cancer care on patient experience and outcomes.

The project team will hold interviews with patients from high and low deprivation areas of the UK who have contacted their GP with a concerning symptom during the pandemic, and with health professionals in community and hospital settings.

This evidence, combined with information from national guidance documents, will be used to develop recommendations on optimal practice to manage care and protect patients in the context of similar pandemics.


For more information about this project, please contact Katriina Whitaker, Reader in Cancer Care, University of Surrey.

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