Nurse, 44, died of cancer 'after delay in treatment due to Covid'

‘Hardworking and generous’ nurse and mother-of-two, 44, died from cancer ‘after delay in treatment due to Covid’

  • Anna Fernandez, 44, from Solihull, West Mids, died of illness at home last month
  • She was first diagnosed with cancer, aged 38, but was in remission for five years
  • Her cancer returned earlier this year and she was having treatment at hospital
  • However, a friend has claimed her treatments were delayed due to Covid-19

A ‘hardworking and generous’ nurse died of cancer, aged 44, after her treatment was delayed due to Covid-19, her friend has claimed.

Mother-of-two Anna Fernandez died peacefully at her Solihull home last month after battling colon cancer.

The trained nurse was in remission for almost five years, having originally been diagnosed at the age of 38.

But earlier this year, her cancer returned and Anna died on September 19 – a day after her youngest son’s birthday.

Now a friend of the ‘kind and caring nurse’, who was originally from the Philippines and worked within an Acute Medical Unit in the Midlands, has claimed delays in her treatment due to Covid-19 had ‘detrimental consequences’.


Mother-of-two Anna Fernandez (pictured) died peacefully at her Birmingham home last month after battling colon cancer. The trained nurse was in remission for almost five years, having originally been diagnosed at the age of 38.

The claim was made by friend Jen Tulay Navarrette on a GoFundMe fundraising page, in which she is aiming to raise £5,000 to help fund a memorial service for Anna – who she met while working at an admissions unit in a hospital in Birmingham.

She said: ‘My dear friend Anna was diagnosed with colon cancer at an early age of 38.

‘Armed with a strong faith in God and surrounded by supportive family and friends, she braved the battle and had remission for almost five years. Sadly it has recurred early this year.

‘Since the world has been plagued by COVID-19, delays in some of her treatment had detrimental consequences.

‘She died peacefully at home in the presence of her family and very close friends.’

Ms Navarette told Birmingham Live that Anna was being treated at both the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Heartlands – the hospital where she had dedicated years to caring for patients, having worked there from 2002 before moving to Solihull.

The paper reported that her biopsies, which should have been been examined in the USA were never sent, while scans were held up, Ms Navarette claimed.

MailOnline has contacted University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the QE and Heartlands Hospital, for a comment.

In a comment to Birmingham Live, the trust said it could not comment specifically on the allegations about the delays in her treatment, but described her as a ‘much-loved colleague’. 

Ms Navarette also paid a heartfelt tribute to her friend on her GoFundMe page.

She said: ‘Being hardworking and thorough, topped with her speed, made her the kind of colleague anyone would look forward to work with every shift. It was never a dull moment working with her.

Ms Navarette told Birmingham Live that Anna was being treated at both the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Heartlands (pictured) – the hospital where she had dedicated years to caring for patients, having worked there from 2002 before moving to Solihull

‘Her presence made the workload light as she gladly did her job, no moaning and groaning even when the going gets tough.

‘Despite the chaos, she remains composed and gets on with the job, with a beautiful smile painted in her bright little face.

‘She was like a ray of sunshine – a friendly, witty, kind and caring soul. She was very helpful and considerate to her colleagues.’

Ms Navarette said Anna left behind a husband and two young children, before describing her as a ‘very caring wife, doting mum and efficient homemaker’.

The page, which is aiming to raise £5,000, was set up on September 23. It has already raised £4,420.

According to the page, the money will go to help her family with the funeral expenses and to give Anna ‘a memorial service equally beautiful as she has been to all of us’. 

Today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed cancer patients will only be guaranteed treatment if Covid-19 stays ‘under control’. 

Mr Hancock claimed that it was ‘critical for everybody to understand the best way to keep cancer services running is to suppress the disease’, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of patients may face delays to planned surgery and chemotherapy, if the outbreak continues to spiral.

Vital operations were cancelled and patients missed out on potentially life-saving therapy in the spring because tackling Covid-19 became the sole focus of the health service, instead of cancer and other cruel diseases.

Almost 2.5million people missed out on cancer screening, referrals or treatment at the height of lockdown, even though the NHS was never overwhelmed — despite fears it would be crippled by the pandemic.

Experts now fear the number of people dying as a result of delays triggered by the treatment of coronavirus patients could even end up being responsible for as many deaths as the pandemic itself.

Surgeons have worriedly called for hospital beds to be ‘ring-fenced’ for planned operations during the pandemic, to avoid the upheaval of spring where patients faced a ‘tsunami of cancellations’ as the health service focused on battling coronavirus.

But in a bruising appearance in the House of Commons today, Mr Hancock warned Covid-19 could once again disrupt cancer treatment and told MPs that controlling the virus would allow the NHS to ‘recover the treatment that we need to for cancer and other killer diseases’.

He said: ‘It’s critical for everybody to understand that the best way to keep cancer services running is to suppress the disease, and the more the disease is under control the more we can both recover and continue with cancer treatments.’

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