Cancer patient’s treatment in jeopardy due to Covid travel rules

Natalie Kate and her parents have been travelling to Cologne so she can be treated for a brain tumour after years of NHS treatment failed to yield results (Picture: Natalie Kate)

A cancer patient could have her life-saving treatment set back by the Government’s new travel requirements, which come into force on Monday.

Natalie Kate, 30, has an aggressive brain tumour, and her family are already struggling to meet the blizzard of Brexit and Covid arrangements involved in making trips to Cologne, Germany, where she is undergoing time-critical treatment.

The food development technologist, who has exhausted all her options on the NHS, fears the new rules will put her life in jeopardy, as she needs to make at least two further trips to the innovative private clinic.

Natalia has been crowdfunding towards the £56,000 cost of the first round of immunotherapy treatment, but the toughened measures, affecting all international arrivals into England, will drain her funds.

She is already £15,000 short of her total, which also covers accommodation costs, and will now need to find another £1,800 per trip for the further Covid tests she and her parents will need to take.

Natalie, from Warwick, is a patient at the Immunological Oncological Centre, where her treatment involves creating a vaccine from her blood and putting it back into her body to attack the cells in an attempt to kill off the tumour.

She said: ‘The costs of the tests will deplete our funds which we’re all making such a massive to raise.

‘It’s made us all very frustrated because we’ve been raising the money but we’re having to put it towards the testing rather than the treatment.

‘It’s time-critical as I’ve got to have the treatment while I’m still healthy enough. If I don’t have it now who knows if I will be healthy enough to have it in five or six months’ time. If I don’t have any treatment at all, who knows if I will still be here.’

Natalie, a former police special, is receiving treatment for a malignant grade 4 tumour, known as a glioblastoma, which was diagnosed in 2017.

Natalie Kate and her parents Liz and Andy in Cologne where she has been undergoing immunotherapy treatment (Picture: Natalie Kate)

It carries an average survival rate of 15 months, with fewer than 5% of people living longer than five years.

Natalie, who previously had to undergo life-saving brain surgery, has defied the odds despite a series of setbacks, and has exhausted all treatments available in the UK, including chemotherapy.

Together with her parents, Liz and Andy, she launched a GoFundMe appeal for last-chance treatment at the centre.

The trio are making the 1,000-mile round trips to Germany by car – with her parents taking it in turns to drive – so they can remain in their bubble and shield her lowered immune system.

Natalie returned from the first two-week trip last month, having navigated a series of rules and arrangements, including Germany’s own requirement for a negative Covid test, taken within 48 hours. She won’t know how many more rounds will be needed until the first phase is completed.

They now face new measures aimed at keeping Covid variants out of England, including additional testing for all international arrivals.

A PCR test will abe required on days two and eight of a 10-day quarantine period, with the traveller footing the cost.

Natalie said: ‘We don’t see why we can’t just use a publicly-available test centre and why we are having to foot this bill privately.

Natalie Kate receives treatment at the clinic in Cologne where she is undergoing a new form of immunotherapy (Picture: Natalie Kate)

‘There should be some kind of medical exemption or financial help on medical grounds. If I could get the treatment in this country I would.’

Natalie’s mother, Liz, added: ‘We are already struggling to pay for this treatment and the costs associated with these new rules could seriously jeopardise our ability to continue to access this life-saving treatment.

‘While we are fully behind the Government’s approach to reducing the spread of Covid, we do feel that there needs to be a more measured approach. The Government needs to consider the impact these latest rules have on people who need to travel to access urgent medical treatment. 

‘We do not have the luxury of choice – if we don’t access treatment now it may be too late for our daughter. 

Natalie Kate and David Harding plan to wed in October after her treatment at a clinic in Germany (Picture: Natalie Kate)

‘We are travelling via the safest mode, in our own bubble in a car and are adhering to the myriad of rules and regulations imposed by UK and the other countries we are travelling through to reach Germany.

‘We don’t need the extra worry and stress of having to secure extra finances to cover the costs of these additional Covid tests.

‘This is going to eat into the funds we have managed to raise to help pay for this life-saving treatment, surely that can’t be right?’

Natalie’s family, friends, and supporters have helped raise funds through a ‘Home to Cologne’ challenge, which has seen multiple teams take part in runs, cycles, swims or walks equal to the 680km distance of the journey.

She has previously told how she is determined to overcome cancer and marry her fiancé, David Harding, at the end of the year. has approached the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

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