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Scots now more likely to visit hospital or GP with non-coronavirus problems


By Chris Saunderson

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RESEARCH shows Scots now more likely to go to hospital or their GP with non Covid-19 symptoms than they were two weeks ago.

This follows concern that people were avoiding seeking help for non-coronavirus issues in order to ease pressure on the NHS.

Dr Carey Lunan.
Dr Carey Lunan.

The research, commissioned to support the recently launched NHS is Open campaign, shows just over half of those surveyed (51 per cent) stated they wouldn’t avoid going to their GP practice or a hospital at the moment, compared to 41 per cent a fortnight before - a shift that has been welcomed by the GP fronting the campaign, Dr Carey Lunan, and the Scottish Government’s National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch.

While around a third (34 per cent) agreed they would still delay attending their GP or hospital at the moment, this figure has fallen from 45 per cent before the campaign began.

The Scottish Government is encouraging people to seek medical help for urgent health issues not related to Covid-19, and has launched a campaign in response to figures indicating patients were delaying contacting their GP or going to hospital during the pandemic, that there was a drop in urgent suspected cancer referrals, and a reduction in families bringing their children for immunisation appointments.

People who need immediate medical assistance are being urged to call their GP surgery, or 111 out of hours, and in emergencies to dial 999.

Dr Carey Lunan, a working GP and chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland, who features in the TV adverts said: “The NHS is open and it’s encouraging to see that the campaign is getting the message across.

“However, I want to reiterate that if it’s urgent, it’s urgent, and it is just as important as ever for people to seek help if they have an urgent health concern, or are worried about a potential cancer symptom. You are not being a burden, it’s what the NHS is here for and we want to hear from you.

“Your health and safety are our top priorities, and both GP practices and hospitals are working differently during the pandemic to minimise infection risk. It’s important to reassure you that patients with coronavirus are treated in separate parts of hospitals.

“Likewise, immunisations against other infectious diseases remain a vital part of protecting the people of Scotland, so please do attend your appointments for these. They can easily be rescheduled if you or your family members are showing signs of coronavirus at the time of your appointment.”

Jason Leitch said: “Thank you to all our health and social care staff for their continuing extraordinary efforts as we face this pandemic. Thanks to them, the NHS remains open because it is vital that you receive urgent medical attention if you need it.

“Your community pharmacy and your GP are open. Your first GP appointment may be by telephone or video but it is still a hugely important step in finding out if you, or your loved one, needs urgent medical help.

Professor Jason Leitch.
Professor Jason Leitch.

“Don’t ignore early cancer signs and symptoms, and certainly don’t delay getting checked - your GP practice is still here for you. If you or anyone in your household notices a rapid deterioration in health, seek help immediately – please don’t ignore the early warning signs of serious conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, severe asthma, or diabetic collapse.

“Immunisation appointments are a legitimate reason to leave your home and now more than ever vaccinations in children and pregnant women should be up to date. Our childhood immunisation programmes continue, and we urge parents to take their children to be vaccinated so they can be protected against very serious disease, including meningitis and measles.

“We are so thankful to those who are staying inside to save lives and our NHS, but the NHS is still open and there for you.”

The survey included 1032 adults in Scotland who were spoken to between May 5-7.

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