Healthwatch Camden has heard concerns from our partners that people are delaying contacting and seeking health services, including care for children. According to NHS England there was a significant drop in A&E attendance and emergency admissions since the Covid-19 outbreak. Part of this drop may mean that people with serious health problems are not seeking medical help for fear of getting coronavirus or because they are worried about putting pressure on the NHS. The message from medical professionals is that notwithstanding the Covid-19 outbreak, health services are open. Please do not delay calling your GP if you are worried about your health or your child’s health.
If you need immediate assistance, dial 999 or attend A&E. Medical professionals are concerned that avoiding hospitals when experience health emergencies could lead to unnecessary deaths. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine encourages people to ‘seek medical help if you need it – don’t stay at home with a heart attack out of fear. Our emergency departments have specific areas for Covid-19 patients, and we treat other ailments in another part. Our healthcare system is still open for business and you will be seen.’ Leaving a serious condition untreated can be deadly, and the risks of delaying may be much greater than those posed by the virus. Hospital is still the safest place if you are seriously ill.
A special note to Camden parents: UCLH children and young people’s emergency department is redirecting patients to alternative local hospitals. A&E services for children are now based at the Whittington Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital. Please be assured that there are many measures in place to protect you and your child from coronavirus if you need to attend A&E. Make sure to let the medical team know if your child has coronavirus symptoms – a fever or dry cough. It won’t affect the quality of the care you receive but it will ensure that those looking after you and the children around you are sufficiently protected. Please also note that immunisations for young children and baby checks are still delivered by GPs and should not be avoided.
Sources of information and care
- For general online information and to check symptoms refer to NHS online: www.nhs.uk or use 111 online: https://111.nhs.uk/
- If needed, contact your GP to discuss your concerns and seek help. Please note that you may be offered a telephone or video consultation with your GP rather than a face-to-face appointment.
- You can call 111 for further advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but please be aware that this service is very busy at the moment.
- Covid-19: If your concerns relate to coronavirus you can also check the NHS symptom checker on www.111.nhs.uk/covid-19