The majority of local GP surgeries will be open for appointments this Friday, the VE Day Bank Holiday, May 8, as the NHS encourages the public to ensure that they don’t delay in seeking medical help.
The NHS has recorded sharp falls in the number of patients presenting at hospital Accident and Emergency departments and doctors’ surgeries during the coronavirus lockdown.
NHS England has found that 4 in 10 are too concerned about being a burden on the NHS to seek help from their GP. And A&E attendances have dropped by around half in the past two months.
Yet seeking medical help is one of the four reasons that people are allowed to leave home during the lockdown, in line with government guidance linked to measures introduced following the coronavirus outbreak.
Dr Andrew Murray, the chair of the South West London Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We know some people will be worried that by contacting their local surgery they’ll be putting extra strain on the NHS – but GPs want people to get in touch about significant health concerns before they get worse.
“Don’t wait to seek help, if you need advice from your GP contact your practice in the way you normally would. Ignoring problems can have serious consequences – now or in the future.”
People are being urged 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.
GP practices will be open as normal this bank holiday Friday, May 8.
The NHS is also reminding people that other vital services should be used as they normally would – such as cancer screening and care, immunisations, maternity appointments and mental health support.
The NHS has significantly increased its capacity and combined with effective social distancing by the public to slow the spread of the virus, this has meant that the NHS has so far successfully been able to meet everyone’s need, with capacity to spare.
Dr Agnelo Fernandes, a GP at the Parchmore Medical Centre and the GP borough lead for Croydon, said: “The NHS is open for business and GPs will be open as normal over the Friday bank holiday.
“People should not be worried about ‘being a bother’ to busy health services. If they have a significant medical concern – whether that’s about cancer, their children or mental health – the first port of call is their GP.
“We can provide help over the phone or through online consultations and if people need to come in, changes have been made so they can get the care they need safely.”
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