More people 'booking GP appointments with deteriorated conditions as lockdown ends'

A Shropshire GP has said many practices are experiencing heavy workloads after an influx of appointments as lockdown restrictions lift.

Dr Stefan Waldendorf
Dr Stefan Waldendorf

Dr Stefan Waldendorf, clinical director for the Newport/Central Primary Care Network, said many people avoided making appointments during lockdown and subsequently, conditions worsened for many people.

Dr Waldendorf also said they have been seeing many mental health related issues crop up, including people feeling anxious about Covid.

The King's Fund think tank found that more than a fifth of patients in the county avoided making a GP appointment in the past year over fears of being a burden on the NHS, according to a survey.

It warned that the pent-up demand will soon force the health care system to deal with a “capacity crunch”.

The figures for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin show that 44 per cent of patients surveyed said that they had avoided making an appointment. The details have been revealed in a survey of 5,411 patients in the NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin CCG area between January and March.

Dr Waldendorf said: "We have seen that a lot of people that came in, particularly in the weeks after lockdown eased, who really didn't want to come during lockdown.

"Then they suddenly came to the GP and at times had quite severe medical problems which deteriorated because they hadn't come to the doctors.

"It's part of the reason GP practices across the board have seen such a surge in workload over the last six weeks or so. As people didn't want to come out and now things have settled they are booking appointments.

"There has been a lot to do with mental health and people having anxiety related to Covid. People struggle with mental health and it's important that if you are unwell they get in touch with the doctors."

He added: "If it's a serious condition or the condition is deteriorating, they should get in touch with the doctors, but if it's something minor they should seek other medical services or a pharmacist due to our workload at the moment."

According to the King's Fund data, 18 per cent of people said they did not make an appointment as they were worried about the risk of catching Covid-19, and 11 per cent because it was too difficult. The figures come from the 2021 GP Patient Survey, which provides an overview of patients’ experiences with primary care services.

The Royal College of GPs said many patients, particularly at the start of the pandemic, did not seek medical attention when they were unwell.

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