Don’t delay if you need care
Now that some of the lockdown restrictions have been eased, it is important for patients to follow through on referrals to see their specialist so they can receive the treatment or check-ups they need.
NHS England recently launched a drive to persuade the public to seek the urgent care and treatment they may require.
They point out that since the COVID crisis, NHS staff have worked hard to put in place measures allowing people to access care safely – such as splitting services into COVID and non-COVID.
Risks of delaying treatment
You may have heard on the news that visits to Accident and Emergency have declined dramatically.
Within cancer care, the figures have also been of concern. For example, the number of patients being referred by their GP on the “urgent suspected cancer two-week wait referral” has fallen to just 20% of pre-COVID levels.
This means many patients will have a delay in their cancer diagnosis with possible far-reaching consequences.
I know as well from my own experience that the same is true for many of my patients who have not been attending follow-up consultations.
I would like to reassure you that patients can feel confident about their safety when visiting a specialist unit or clinic.
However ignoring problems can have serious consequences – now and in the future.
Over the past two months I have been doing regular appointments and consultations via phone or video conference and I intended to continue with this whenever possible.
However if a visit to the clinic is necessary for a face-to-face consultation or tests, we have put in place new stringent safety procedures. These include:
- Attendance at clinics will be preceded by individual screening. This will include a telephone call to check that patients are well and free of any COVID type symptoms the day before attendance. Any patients with COVID type symptoms will be deferred.
- Temperature checks will be carried out on arrival. Waiting rooms have been redesigned to enforce social distancing, and appointments will run strictly on time to avoid patients having to hang around waiting (every cloud has a silver lining!). All staff including doctors and nurses will wear masks. During the actual consultation, social distancing will be maintained, and I will wear PPE as appropriate for examinations.
- Ear, nose and throat examinations including endoscopy will require me to wear full PPE of mask, gloves, visor and gown.
- Clinics will implement regular staff COVID testing programme to eliminate infection among staff.
It is worth pointing out as well that patients with cancer or those on follow up are included in the “time critical” patient group mentioned in government communications.
So far, the NHS has adapted successfully to meet the challenges of the COVID crisis. It is now time to take some steps to getting back to some degree of normal practice to ensure that our response to one crisis does not put other patients at risk because they have delayed seeking help and care.
To find out more or if you have any questions about a consultation please contact my Senior Medical Secretary Stacy. Her contact details are:
T +44 (0) 207 299 0093 (ext 67093)
F +44 (0) 207 034 8049
The Harley Street Clinic
HCA Healthcare UK
16 Devonshire Street, London W1G 7AF