A lung screening programme in Yorkshire has started seeing new patients again after being paused during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Leeds Lung Health Check was the first programme of its kind in the UK to return to normal service following a decline in the number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19.
Appointments for lung health checks, which include a special type of x-ray called a screening CT scan, are now taking place for new patients invited through their GP.
The reopening of the multi-million pound trial, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, means people in Leeds will once again benefit from life-saving scans which are designed to find lung cancer at the earliest possible stage.
Patients found to have early stage cancer through the Leeds Lung Health Check programme will receive surgery and curative radiotherapy as normal.
Precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of both staff and patients, including supplying personal protective equipment, checking for Covid-19 symptoms, implementing social distancing measures, hand washing on arrival and thorough cleaning of the facilities.
Suzanne Rogerson, Senior Research Nurse, said: “We’re really pleased to be back up and running. It’s been hard work redesigning how we carry out the checks to keep both the team and patients safe but it’s definitely worth it. It’s so important to find these cancers while they’re small and can be cured.
“People attending appointments are sent information leaflets explaining the steps we’re taking to ensure their safety on the unit, and they have felt reassured by that. We’ve changed our appointment schedule to spread appointments out more during the day and minimise the number of people attending the unit at the same time. We ring every patient before they come to check that they haven’t got any symptoms of coronavirus and no one they live with does.
“Patients are also asked to attend appointments on their own. As soon as they arrive they’re asked to sanitise their hands and put on a surgical face mask. We also check their temperature and record it. Staff also have their temperature checked and wear face masks at all times, and we also wear eye protection, apron, and gloves when blood is being taken.”
The Leeds Lung Health Check, delivered in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council, aims to test screening in community settings and provide information to improve the effectiveness and benefit of future lung screening programmes.
By February this year, more than 4,000 people had been checked for signs of lung cancer, and more than 80 cancers had been diagnosed with the majority found at an early stage.
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