“The NHS wants you to make contact and get help when you need it despite the Covid virus, and it has the capacity to treat you,” is the message loud and clear from Healthwatch.
The statutory body is concerned for the thousands of people who, in ordinary times, would have gone to their GP, dentist or A&E department, but have not done so during the crisis.
For some people, not seeking early help for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and mental health issues will mean they experience poorer health and that their conditions may be more difficult to treat.
As a result Healthwatch is pleading with people not to ignore signs and symptoms of any potentially serious health problem. It says the clear message from the NHS is: “We’ll give you the care you need.”
While the focus of the NHS over the past six weeks has been on preventing the spread of Covid-19 and treating those affected by the virus, it is urging people to recognise it is still open for business for all medical issues.
Anyone in need of medical help should contact their GP in the way they would have done before the crisis hit. GPs will be able to discuss with patients the various options and help them come to a decision about what is right for them.
The worry is that people with potentially serious medical conditions are not seeking help early enough because they are deliberately avoiding going to healthcare settings. Research by the NHS has shown that people are concerned with catching the virus and bringing it home to loved ones. People are also worried about being a burden on the hospital. Healthwatch is encouraging people to access NHS services for non-coronavirus medical issues when they have an urgent medical need or have been instructed to.
Cancer is of particular concern to Healthwatch and it urges people to heed the guidance produced by Healthwatch England in association with Cancer Research UK
If you need medical help you should still contact your GP practice, dentist, use NHS 111 online or call them. If you are told to go to the hospital, it is important that you do so.