The pandemic has rolled into its second wave in the UK. This has seen routine surgery in Manchester hospitals grinding to a halt. People are staying at home more and many are putting off visiting their doctors unless ‘in extremis’. They do not want to trouble their doctors, or else are worried about picking up infection at the surgery.
These concerns are generally unwarranted. Most consultations are now by phone or over the internet and if the GP or nurse wishes to see you at the surgery, they will be wearing PPE. The waiting rooms are very quiet and anyone with fever, cough or other symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 will not be admitted but will be directed to the Covid hotline.
Some reasons why people typically delay contacting their doctors include: embarrassment, not wanting to trouble them, worrying that their concerns might be thought trivial or not wanting to receive bad news. Doctors and nurses are used to seeing all kinds of conditions. This is a routine part of their job. They do their very best to maintain your dignity at all times. The system of telephone consultations means that it is quick and easy for them to tell if your condition merits further assessment.
Try to be aware of what is normal for you and if there are changes such as weight loss, pain, finding a lump, blood in your urine or stools or anything else which has changed significantly, your doctor will want to hear from you to rule out a significant diagnosis such as diabetes or cancer. Of course, in most cases it will not be so serious but it is crucial to make sure of this.
If you are assessed and reassured by your doctor or a hospital doctor and your symptoms change or worsen; or if you are referred but do not receive an appointment then ‘be as persistent as your symptoms’. It is possible to keep your doctor informed of how your symptoms are developing without overloading the surgery system. Perhaps you initially had a telephone consultation but this time around they may ask for you to attend the surgery? While hospital waiting lists are long, attempts will be made for appropriate prioritisation.
Most importantly, if you were to have a serious diagnosis, such as cancer, picking it up early could greatly improve the chances of a good outcome.
Useful Contact Numbers:
Chai Cancer Care Support for people with cancer and their families in the Jewish community
Free Confidential Helpline 0808 808 4567
Reception 0161 772 4760
Email [email protected]
L’Chaim Helping fast track diagnosis and assisting with private testing in the Jewish community
0161 660 7666
Macmillan Mainstream organisation offering support to people with cancer
0808 808 00 00 Website www.macmillan.org.uk
Answer Cancer Improving Cancer awareness in Manchester Website www.answercancergm.org.uk
Dr Jackie Lewis (Rose) and Salford Healthy Communities