South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging local people to seek medical help when they require it during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figures released last week by ISD Scotland revealed that during the week ending 12 April 2020, NHS Dumfries and Galloway saw just 450 people attending A&E, while the week ending 29 March saw the lowest ever figures at 430.

In comparison, during the week ending 14 April 2019, the figure was 988. In the week ending 1 September 2019, it was 1,138.

Last week the Scottish Government reported that patients were delaying seeing their GP during the pandemic and there had been a drop in urgent suspected cancer referrals, as well as a reduction in families bringing their children for immunisation.

Colin Smyth said: “While none of us want to overburden our NHS at this terrible time, it is vitally important that those who require treatment feel confident to get in touch with their healthcare provider without delay.

“While Covid-19 is at the forefront of people’s minds, we must remember that other health problems exist, and health emergencies can occur. In these cases, people must contact their GPs, call 111 for advice or 999 in an emergency.

“GPs are asking people to call them in the first instance and in many cases, they can then carry out assessments over the phone, so patients do not have to go into the surgery. However, each case will be looked at on an individual basis.

“My big fear is that if people do not seek help and advice now, the health service will face even more, non Covid-19 related, problems further down the line.

“The public must be praised for being considerate and wanting to leave our health service free to treat Covid-19 cases. However, this should not be at the expense of their own health as there is worrying evidence that people haven’t been seeking medical treatment often because they simply worry about attending a hospital or GP surgery but that could mean health problems being missed or not treated in time.

“As we slowly move towards exiting lockdown, there will be a real need for the NHS to return to carrying out work such as screening and elective surgery to ensure that people’s health conditions are caught early or not allowed to get worse. Ensuring that is able to happen safely must be a priority of the Scottish Government.”

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