DOCTORS are encouraging people to continue visiting surgeries for any serious health concerns.
Across Berkshire West, doctors are reminding patients that surgeries are still open, after Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that people must not avoid seeing their GP as this could create more serious issues.
There are fears that the coronavirus pandemic has deterred people from seeking help for things like suspected cancers, heart problems and stroke.
But many of these problems need detecting early so appropriate treatment can be put into place.
Dr Abid Irfan, clinical lead for Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There’s been a lot of publicity advising people about coronavirus symptoms and the need to contact NHS 111 and self isolate.
“We’ve also been urging people who have suspected symptoms to stay away from surgeries to prevent the spread of the virus. And, on the whole, people have been acting very responsibly.
“Our concern is that in the midst of all this, people who don’t have coronavirus symptoms, but are obviously very unwell, are not getting in touch with their GPs.
“This, coupled with a pause in screening programmes as the NHS tackles the virus, means serious problems like cancer could go unchecked. But the sooner we identify these sort of serious health problems, the more likely they are to be managed and treated.”
Dr Irfan encouraged anyone who notices lumps, changes in moles, blood in their urine and stools and unintentional weight loss to contact their GP.
“This message is also an important one for parents and carers of children,” he added. “Figures from the Royal Berkshire Hospital this week showed an alarming drop in children being taken to the Emergency Department and we are seeing a similar picture at GP surgeries.
“Our message is that your local GP surgery, along with the rest of the NHS services, are still here for you – for people with maternity appointments, children’s vaccinations, those needing mental health support and other important healthcare issues.
“People are asked to ring and not pop in. They will then be triaged over the phone and, if staff feel it’s necessary, they will be called in for a face to face consultation.”
People with less worrying symptoms are reminded of alternative healthcare options including local pharmacists who can advise on things like stomach bugs, heavy colds, rashes and conjunctivitis.
For more advice, visit: www.nhs.uk