The fallout from the volcanic eruption in Iceland has left cancer patients in the UK without life-extending drug treatment and vital stem cells for bone marrow transplants.

As HSJ went to press the disruption to UK flights caused by the volcanic ash cloud meant that specialist cancer drugs destined for a small number of patients at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust had been unable to get through.

A spokesperson for the trust said the patients affected had been contacted and that the trust was in daily contact with the drugs suppliers.

“We hope the supplies will get through shortly and this will not affect any more patients,” she said.

According to the Anthony Nolan Trust, which imports stem cells from bone marrow donors around the world, 16 transplant patients, including five children, had their operations postponed as stem cells could not get through.

“Patients undergo intensive chemotherapy prior to a transplant.

“The longer they are in limbo the more likely they are to suffer from an infection or die,” a spokesperson for the charity said.

Besides drug supplies, a snapshot poll by HSJ of 10 acute trusts found the NHS appears to be coping well with the problems caused by the ash cloud. Most reported little disruption, with only a handful of staff stranded abroad and little or no problems with supplies.