Unintended consequences of Covid-19 hysteria!

14/05/20Unintended consequences of Covid-19 hysteria!

I'm worried that patients with early stages of cancer aren’t contacting their GP!

Cancer Research UK estimates that some 2,300 cancers are being missed each week during lockdown. I know my cancer pick up rate in General Practice has plummeted in lock down. My GP colleagues agree. Unfortunately as well as self referrals plummeting, a further 400 a week could go unchecked because of a pause in screening for breast, cervical and bowel cancer during the lockdown.

Let me point out that GPs are still holding morning and afternoon surgeries. Mostly by telephone, some by video and most of us have a way to look at photos online. We are adept at getting useful health information and working around barriers.

Let’s run through common scenarios:
A cough or shortness of breath for more than 6 weeks could be something other than covid-19 so speak to your GP about this. This doesn't mean you have to attend the surgery.

A breast lump or skin change of the breast or nipple are dealt with comprehensively at your local ‘one stop breast clinic’. You can get reassurance there and then, or if there is concern, further tests are organised. Your GP can refer you there in a very timely manner.

Bloody or unusually loose poo for more than 3 weeks, may not be sinister, but your GP knows the steps to take to find out why this is happening.

Weight loss, marked tiredness or lack of appetite are non specific signs that things aren’t right! Once again, your GP knows how to find the answer for this (if there is one).

But a GP can’t do this investigative work if you or your loved one aren't asking for help.

Do your family a favour, talk about this post, highlight that GPs are still working hard sorting out health problems. They are using other methods of assessments with an occasional face to face appointment if crucial. If you/ they are worried, get a phone call appointment with the GP and make a start. I'm a GP and I want to hear from you. The sooner the better.

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