Life-saving early detection put at risk by COVID-19 infection fear
99% of healthcare professionals working in primary settings such as surgeries are concerned that patients are missing out on a potentially life or death diagnosis.
All because patients are too scared to attend appointments during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Allied to that, 45% of healthcare professionals fear that having to work remotely via video-link or telephone means they could be failing to detect serious diseases in patients.
So says the first survey on the impact of the pandemic on primary healthcare outlets, published today on the Guidelines in Practice website https://www.guidelinesinpractice.co.uk/
Early detection can stop conditions such as bowel cancer from becoming deadly and slow down and even reverse Alzheimer’s.
Almost half of the respondents were deeply concerned about the impact of the pandemic on patients’ mental health, which could result in conditions such as depression and anxiety spiralling into self-harm and even suicide.
Far from being overrun during COVID-19, 40% of health care professionals are less busy than usual and a further 15% claim they are considerably quieter.
“More than 90% of women diagnosed early with ovarian cancer survive for 5 years or more, whereas just 5% live that long when diagnosed later” said Ivor Eisenstadt, Managing Director of MGP, who conducted the study, “the same need for early detection applies to most cancers, cardiovascular disease and viral infections including HIV. People with important symptoms are not consulting their GP and instead are playing dice with their own health.”
The survey, which quizzed over 400 UK primary healthcare professionals, (including those working within COVID-19 hubs) showed that the virus has made a huge change to the way most surgeries work, with 89% of doctors doing some or all of their non-COVID-19 consultations via telephone.
GP Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE has worked on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19. He said: “I am concerned that patients are not turning up at surgery. I largely think this is through fear but also a desire not to bother the NHS at this critical time. People must attend if they display worrying symptoms. Of particular concern is patients not presenting with mental health issues. There is a stigma around problems such as depression at the best of times. I genuinely believe people are suffering in silence.”
Ivor Eisenstadt concluded: ‘What this survey shows is that primary healthcare professionals have compassion for patients and recognise that other serious illnesses don’t go away just because we are in the middle of a pandemic. With innovations such as more online appointments and telephone triage, our healthcare professionals are also showing that they are adaptable, professional and wholly dedicated to their patients, whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.’
To view the full survey, visit guidelinesinpractice.co.uk/covid-survey-results
The impact of the coronavirus on primary care survey was organised by MGP in collaboration with Dr. Sandesh Gulhane, and published by Guidelines in Practice. Data was analysed by BrainSell.
Guidelines in Practice is published by MGP Ltd, a specialist healthcare media company which aims to improve patients’ lives by promoting best practice in healthcare. MGP specialises in multichannel content and educational projects based around clinical guidance and evidence-based information through its brands: Guidelines, Guidelines in Practice, Guidelines for Nurses, Guidelines for Pharmacy, Guidelines Live, and Specialised Medicine.
IMAGE: Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE