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Don't delay seeking medical care during the pandemic

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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During the Covid 19 pandemic there has been an understandable reduction in the number of people seeking help from the NHS. Indeed, it was reported that the number of visits in England, to accident and emergency, were down by 29%. It was also reported by the NHS that 4 in 10 people were concerned about being a burden on the NHS and thus delayed or refrained from seeking help from their GP. Whilst hesitating to seek medical treatment is understandable in the current climate, such action could cause greater harm to the patient.

Coronavirus may cause long term health risks

Indeed, that was the warning from the NHS in April, who said that delays in getting treatment due to coronavirus fears could pose a long-term risk to people’s health. It has been stressed that the NHS is still there for patients without coronavirus, who need urgent and emergency services for heart attack, stroke and other killer conditions. It is not just the most serious illnesses that could be affected by delay in seeking treatment, but less obvious problems such as testicle torsion, where just a day’s delay could result in the loss of a testicle.

It is important that people in need of health services should not delay seeking urgent help. The NHS has taken steps to encourage people to use vital services, such as cancer screening and care, maternity appointments and mental health support.

Coronavirus may cause the NHS waiting list to double

Although the NHS health bosses are encouraging people not to delay, in seeking medical help, they also raised the fear in June, that the number of people waiting for NHS treatment could double by the end of 2020, to 10 million. This could have serious health consequences for patients, particularly those with serious illnesses. The increase in the waiting list could result in patients receiving a delayed diagnosis, having treatment delayed, or errors being made.

Therefore, it is important that the Government listens to the NHS Confederation, which represents health and care leaders, as they call for emergency funding and long-term spending. This is needed to avert a crisis in our hospitals.

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