'Don't put off contacting your GP about serious symptoms'

Doctors are worried that people are avoiding making appointments for symptoms that need to be checked sooner rather than later.
Patient having their blood pressure taken by their GP

Local doctors are reminding people that their surgeries are still open and they will see people in person if they have any serious health concerns.

This message came after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that people must not put off seeing their GP because this could lead to serious issues going undetected for too long.

Cancer Research UK has also warned that 2,700 cases of cancer per week across the country could be going undiagnosed because people aren’t booking GP appointments.

Dr Abid Irfan, clinical lead of the Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group that oversees doctors’ surgeries in Reading and neighbouring boroughs, 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,” he added.

Symptoms that need to be checked by your GP

  • Lumps
  • Changes in moles
  • Blood in your ‘wee’ or ‘poo’
  • Unintentional weight loss

Dr Irfan added: “This message is also an important one for parents and carers of children. Figures from the Royal Berkshire Hospital this week showed an alarming drop in children being taken to 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 health care 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,” he added.

People with less worrying symptoms are being reminded of the range of alternative healthcare options available including local pharmacists who can advise on things like stomach bugs, heavy colds, rashes, conjunctivitis and the like. There’s also plenty of advice on the NHS website www.nhs.uk

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