NICE response to COVID-19 infection – delivery of systemic anticancer treatments

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have put together a rapid guideline on the delivery of systemic anticancer treatments.1 The document outlines that the main purpose for this additional guidance is ‘to maximize the safety of patients with cancer and make the best use of NHS resources, while protecting staff from infection’, and is aimed at health and care practitioners, those involved in planning and delivery services, and commissioners.

The guideline offers advice on communicating with patients and what adaptations are required to reduce the spread of infection, including offering telephone/video consultations to minimize contact. For most patients, this will be a welcome option due to the enforced isolation across the UK, whilst still maintaining contact with their oncology team. It also covers advice for staff who are self-isolating, and how they can continue to help the already-stretched NHS.

Most importantly, the guidance covers prioritizing patients for treatment, based on the treatment intent and risk:benefit ratio of the treatment option. In these difficult times, when healthcare professionals are being asked to modify their current practices, and work in increasingly challenging environments, clear guidance on treating their patients is vital. It lists options for treating patients including amending regimens, but that most importantly ‘each patient is considered on an individual basis by the multidisciplinary team’

These guidelines, and others which are sure to follow, provide those treating patients on the frontline with vital information on next steps and processes at this very difficult time.

Edited by Thomas Southgate


  1. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). COVID-19 rapid guideline: delivery of systemic anticancer treatments. Published: 20 March 2020. Available at: (Accessed 26 March 2020).