Information to help people make the right decisions about their general health and treatment against perceived risk of COVID-19 infection has been a key concern of Patient Information Forum (PIF) members throughout the pandemic.
The Covid Choices survey was developed with a collaborative group of expert patients and other partners. More than 800 people responded to the survey and made more than 1000 detailed free text comments expressing their concerns. The vast majority of people had a health condition or cared for someone who did. Around 60% said their long-term condition put them at risk of infection and just under half were shielding. Responses represented people with a wide range of health conditions.
- Fear of catching and becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 outweighed concerns about respondents’ existing health conditions.
- Around 1 in 3 people said they had delayed healthcare and this was broadly consistent across all conditions. This rose to 2 in 5 for people with diabetes, lung disease and mental health conditions.
- People had switched to home therapy, delayed starting new treatments, avoided routine medication monitoring or self- managed. Some felt their health had deteriorated while they waited for the pandemic to abate.
- NHS Trusts and GP surgeries to provide clear, practical advice to patients on COVID-19 security measures in place before appointments to encourage people to return to care.
- Consistent advice across NHS services for people with long term conditions on COVID-19 risk related to their condition and treatment in consultation with national charities.
- Choice for people with long term conditions on how care is delivered, remotely or in person, so they can make a decision related to their immediate health needs, their personal risk factors and COVID-19 security measures in place.
- The provision of/or signposting to translated information and information in accessible formats.