Thousands put off GP visits during pandemic

Nearly one in five patients in Hartlepool avoided making a GP appointment during the pandemic over fears of being a ‘burden’ on the NHS, according to a survey.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 2:40 pm
GP pandemic survey

A survey of 7,712 patients in the NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group area, carried out between January and March, found that 19% said they had put off seeing their GP because they did not want to place a burden on the NHS.

Meanwhile, 15% said they did not make an appointment as they were worried about the risk of catching Covid-19.

The Royal College of GPs said many patients, particularly at the start of the pandemic, did not seek medical attention when they were unwell.

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It’s chairman, Prof Martin Marshall, said: "GP services have been available throughout the pandemic, and we are now making record numbers of patient consultations alongside delivering the vast majority of the vaccination programme.

"Nevertheless, we continue to urge patients, if they are unwell or have symptoms that could be signs of serious illness, to seek medical assistance."

Beccy Baird, senior fellow at health service think tank, The King’s Fund, said: “As more people begin to seek help and advice from GPs, the Government needs to consider how general practice will be supported to make sure that people continue to be able to access the care they need.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We need to learn to live with this virus and are supporting practices in expanding capacity, with £270m available so they can continue to provide support for those in need.”