Doctors in North East Lincolnshire are keen to remind the public that NHS services remain open to help them with their serious health conditions, amid concern that some people are putting off seeking medical help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Although hospitals in North East Lincolnshire are busy as they care for people who have contracted coronavirus, they still have capacity to treat patients with other serious health concerns.
Similarly, GP practices, pharmacies and other health and care services are open to help people who need help for conditions other than coronavirus.
The plea from doctors comes as evidence suggests that some people are not contacting hospitals or GP practices despite having serious health conditions, because they know that healthcare services are busy or because they are worried about visiting healthcare services in case they contract coronavirus.
But doctors are urging people not to delay seeking medical help for serious health conditions, because the sooner they seek help the better the outcome is likely to be.
Dr Andrew Phillips, a local GP and Clinical Lead for the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership’s Urgent and Emergency Care Network, said: “People with long-term conditions should continue to get support from their GP, specialist hospital teams or community services if they feel that their condition is deteriorating. Please do not let your anxieties about COVID-19 affect whether or not you attend A&E if you feel unwell.
“Please seek medical attention early because if you don’t you run the risk of your condition becoming far worse and possibly not recovering from the condition and becoming as well as you were before.
“If you are advised by a healthcare professional to attend a hospital or GP practice for a face-to-face assessment you should be confident that you will be assessed in a safe environment.”
If you need to use the NHS for reasons other than coronavirus, in the first instance you should use NHS 111 (by phoning 111 or visiting www.111.nhs.uk) or contact your GP or local pharmacy.
Pregnant women are advised to contact their midwives should they need help, while if you have an urgent or life-threatening condition you should go to A&E or ring 999.
All healthcare services are following strict infection control measures to protect patients and staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Kate Wood, a critical care doctor and Medical Director at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Since COVID-19 we’ve separated the emergency departments in to two different areas – one for patients who are suffering from potential COVID-19 symptoms, and the other side is for patients with non COVID-19-related illnesses. We do try really hard to protect people so please don’t worry about coming in to our emergency departments.”
Parents are among those people thought to not be seeking medical help when their children are displaying worrying symptoms.
Dr Nigel Wells, a local GP and Clinical Lead for the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, said: “We’re noticing that children aren’t attending our services and are not being brought to GP practices when they probably should have been. If your child is unwell and you’re worried about what to do please contact NHS 111, or your local pharmacy or local GP surgery.”
Dr Phillips, Dr Wood and Dr Wells have produced some videos to help reassure people what to do if they require medical help during the coronavirus pandemic. These videos can be viewed here: bit.ly/3bC2A8S.
For more information on how to find the most appropriate NHS service for your needs visit www.nhs.uk.
Visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus for advice on coronavirus, including information about symptoms, isolation guidance and what you can do to help the NHS.