Cancer Focus Northern Ireland has temporarily halted all face-to-face appointments with vulnerable local cancer patients as a result of the current coronavirus crisis.
Lifeline services provided by the leading local cancer charity to patients and their families have been seriously disrupted by the outbreak.
The charity has had to temporarily stop face-to-face contact with patients who would normally have attended for counselling, family support, art therapy, bra-fitting and other care service appointments. It has also cancelled home and hospital visits.
Roisin Foster, chief executive of Cancer Focus NI, said: “We're very aware that these are extraordinary - and, for many people, very worrying – times, and difficult decisions have to be made.
“As a local cancer charity, many people who access our services may be particularly vulnerable during this time, for example those who are undergoing cancer treatment. We have a duty of care to our service users and want to act responsibly during such an uncertain time.
“Therefore, the decision has been made to temporarily stop face-to-face appointments and meetings, such as bra-fitting and group support activities,” she said.
“For services such as counselling, family support service and art therapy, we intend to provide patient support via telephone and video call. Our freephone Nurse Line will be operating as normal, Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm, on 0800 783 3339 for advice and information about cancer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The charity also operates a driving service to take patients to and from hospital appointments. For the time being it will no longer be taking new referrals but the charity will do its best to honour appointments already made.
If you have an immediate appointment for one of the Cancer Focus NI care services, a member of staff will be in touch to cancel.
Roisin added: “We are looking at ways to use technology to keep in contact with our patient support users during this uncertain time. We are used to walking hand-in-hand with our clients and will continue to try and do so remotely. We will be reviewing our practices as government guidelines are reviewed,” Roisin added.
“We would ask everyone to please bear in mind that we can only continue to deliver these services to local people with your help. We are over 90% reliant on public donations to deliver our good work. As a relatively small local charity, we will need your help over the coming months.
“Unfortunately, cancer and how it affects people – the patient and carers - will not stand still during this pandemic.
“There are many ways you can show your support remotely. Please visit cancerfocusni.org/backlocal for more information. Thank you for your patience and understanding at this time.”
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