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People urged to still contact GPs if they have health worries during coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 11:38 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:38 09 April 2020

GPs across Suffolk were still operating during the coronavirus lockdown, including for prescriptions. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

GPs across Suffolk were still operating during the coronavirus lockdown, including for prescriptions. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk GPs have urged people to make sure they still get any health fears checked out by their doctor during the coronavirus lockdown, amid fears that symptoms for serious conditions could be missed.

Dr Mark Shenton , GP and Chairman of the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG governing body said people must still contact their GP with health concerns as serious conditions could be missed. PIcture: SIMON PARKERDr Mark Shenton , GP and Chairman of the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG governing body said people must still contact their GP with health concerns as serious conditions could be missed. PIcture: SIMON PARKER

The Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, which oversees primary care, admitted that referrals from GPs to hospitals for things such as cancer treatments had “dropped quite significantly”.

MORE: What happens with GP appointments and prescriptions during lockdown?

Lockdown measures currently mean that patients will have a phone conversation with their GP practice first, so that clinicians can decide whether a face-to-face appointment is needed, or whether a phone appointment is appropriate.

Some GPs already have online and video appointment systems in place, which has proved invaluable during social distancing.

But Stowmarket-based GP Dr Mark Shenton, chairman of the CCG’s governing board, urged people to still phone their GPs for any health concerns, and not to be put off by coronavirus.

He said: “There is evidence that people aren’t presenting potentially serious medical symptoms to us because they might be worried there are practitioners overrun with work or may have to travel somewhere that puts them at risk, so they will potentially hang on to wait and see [if their symptoms develop].

“Our message to the public is we are still open.”

MORE: Follow the Suffolk Coronavirus Facebook page for latest information here

Dr Shenton said GP referrals to hospitals for further treatment on conditions such as cancer had “dropped quite significantly” and said the early indicators of serious conditions could be missed if people did not get them checked out.

Examples include suspicious lumps which could be indicators of tumours or cancers, or chest pain which could be linked to angina or mini-strokes.

Other issues included those with young babies, bowel changes or blood in urine.

He said: “We can still offer chest x-rays, ultrasound and blood tests where they may have suspicious symptoms, and we have pathways still open to the hospitals for people we suspect have got serious conditions.”

People phoning their GP should expect a conversation with the practice first to explain what their health problem is to determine whether a face-to-face appointment is needed or if it can be carried out over the phone, internet or video call.

The CCG confirmed GPs were also using PPE when interacting with patients face-to-face.

To keep up to date with all the latest coronavirus information in Suffolk, sign up to the EADT newsletter here or bookmark the EADT’s coronavirus topic page here.


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