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Written on 7th May 2020 by Melloney Harbutt

It goes without saying that those with a mesothelioma diagnosis are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19, a virus principally affecting the respiratory system and which may cause life-threatening respiratory complications.

The rapid spread and seriousness of the pandemic may worry many mesothelioma patients and there is wider concern about the unprecedented pressure placed on the NHS.

Mesothelioma patients at high risk

Mesothelioma patients are considered to be at-risk, irrespective of age, because they may develop more life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19 than otherwise healthy people.

Although not specifically on the Government list of those deemed to be extremely vulnerable, the current advice is that those suffering from mesothelioma and anyone they live with should follow the Government’s advice on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

It follows therefore that those suffering from mesothelioma should be entitled to the Government support available, such as emergency food supplies and medication delivery.

If you suffer from mesothelioma and you are worried that you have not received a letter to confirm that you have been registered as extremely vulnerable, to enable you to access this local support, you can in fact register yourself (or someone else) online. If you have any difficulties your GP or clinical team may be able to assist.

There is concern that fear of contracting COVID-19 is keeping patients away from healthcare services, which could result in an increase in deaths if people do not seek the help that they need. The message from the NHS is that the NHS is still there for you. It is really important, therefore, that you seek medical advice if you have any concerns about your symptoms and ask for help when you need it.

Investigations and treatment during the pandemic

Investigations into cases of suspected mesothelioma are likely to still be taking place and decisions are still being made. Some treatments will have changed of course and some may be delayed but the NHS is still there to help mesothelioma patients. Decisions regarding treatment are likely to be weighed up by the clinical team, taking into account both the risks and the benefits for each mesothelioma sufferer as an individual.

Appointments may now be by telephone, with someone you perhaps haven’t met before, rather than face-to-face with your usual team. This means you may want to be prepared for the consultation in case you are asked questions to double-check your background, such as details of your diagnosis and the procedures and treatment you have had to date. Remember to write down any questions you have before the consultation so that you don’t forget to ask them. 

If your mesothelioma treatment is going ahead at the hospital, then you should avoid public transport when attending and, if you can, attend alone to reduce the number of people coming into the hospital. Remember to follow the recommended steps regarding social distancing and the regular hand washing guidelines. There is mixed advice about the benefit of gloves and masks and of course the advice changes rapidly.

Self-care for mesothelioma patients whilst self-isolating

It is really important at this difficult time to avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness so try to get or remain connected with the outside world. This might be limited to speaking to friends and family on the telephone or by video call, to keep your spirits lifted. This may extend to the wider community, by you connecting with local social media groups or even with other mesothelioma sufferers via social media. Your local mesothelioma support groups may also be continuing virtually.

It is also important to eat well and exercise if you can at home. If you are on social media you may have already found the “home chair workouts for seniors” offered by Joe Wicks, the so-called “Body Coach”, via his FaceBook page and YouTube. There are plenty of other options available.

Mesothelioma compensation claims

In so far as legal claims are concerned, these are still progressing and we continue to work hard to secure mesothelioma sufferers the compensation they are entitled to. 

Boyes Turner continues to maintain a full legal advice service for both new and existing clients and you can expect to receive our usual excellent level of service.

All our solicitors and support staff have remote access to our practice management system, document sharing, telephone lines and email. Video conferencing is also available remotely. 

You can contact us as usual either via the website, via email or telephone 0800 124 4845.