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Millions of patients 'avoiding calls to GP' during COVID-19 pandemic

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Four in ten people are not seeking help from their GP because they are afraid to be a burden on the NHS during the pandemic, polling by NHS England reveals.

The findings – from a survey of 1,000 people – are the latest in a wave of evidence that fewer people are seeking care for illnesses other than those related to coronavirus during the pandemic.

GP online reported on 20 April that data collected by the RCGP showed a 25% reduction in routine clinical activity in general practice, and figures from Public Health England (PHE) and the British Heart Foundation show that A&E attendances overall and patients going to hospital for heart attacks are down 50%.

Warnings that patients' reluctance to come forward could put them at risk come as leading charities warned that suspension of some routine GP services during the pandemic could also lead to a 'future crisis' if control of conditions such as asthma and COPD deteriorate.

Professor Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: 'We are very concerned that patients may not be accessing the NHS for care because they either don’t want to be a burden or because they are fearful about catching the virus.

'Everyone should know that the NHS is still open for business and it is vitally important that if people have serious conditions or concerns they seek help. This campaign is an important step in ensuring that people are encouraged to get the care they need when they need it.'

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Source: GP online, 25 April 2020

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