Health leaders across the Black Country and West Birmingham are supporting a major NHS drive to persuade the public to seek the urgent care and treatment they need.
Nationally, the NHS has warned that delays in getting treatment due to coronavirus fears pose a long-term risk to people’s health.
New findings show that four in ten people are too concerned about being a burden on the NHS to seek help from their GP.
Seeking medical help is one of the four reasons that people can safely leave home, in line with government guidance.
Local health leaders along with GPs have stressed that the NHS is still there for patients without coronavirus who need urgent and emergency services for stroke, heart attack, and other killer conditions.
Dr Anand Rischie, GP in Walsall and Clinical Chair at NHS Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group said, “GP practices across the Black Country are working hard to ensure that patients continue to safely access primary care services and are able to seek advice for any health related issues that patients or their carers may be worried about.
“It is vitally important that if people have serious conditions or concerns they seek help. Therefore, whether you or a loved one have the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, are a parent worried about their child or have concerns about conditions such as cancer you should seek help in the way you always would.
“Ignoring problems can have serious consequences – do not delay seeking help”
Some leading clinicians including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and medical health charities such as the British Heart Foundation and Stroke Association have expressed concerns that people are risking their long-term health, and their lives, by delaying getting the help they need.
A new public information campaign – including digital adverts, posters and social media featuring NHS staff – will be launched nationally this week to persuade people to contact their GP or the 111 service if they have urgent care needs – or 999 in emergencies – and to attend hospital if they are told they should.
Dr Jonathan Odum, Chair of the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Leadership Group and Medical Director at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust said, “We are very concerned that patients may not be accessing the NHS for care because they either don’t want to be a burden or because they are fearful about catching the virus.
“Everyone should know that the NHS is still open for business and it is vitally important that if people have serious conditions or concerns they seek help. This campaign is an important step in ensuring that people are encouraged to get the care they need when they need it.
“If you are worried, please get in touch with your GP, use NHS 111, or in serious cases come and see us in hospital.”
As well as encouraging people to seek help for urgent health needs, over the coming weeks the NHS will take steps to encourage people to use other vital services – such as cancer screening and care, maternity appointments and mental health support – as they usually would, by demonstrating how frontline teams are delivering them safely.