Continue to seek help for urgent & medical emergencies

Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG

This week the Government is once again reviewing whether lockdown will be continuing.  We have had 6 weeks of it so far and I know it has been tough for lots of people.  Thank you to everyone staying home to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Whilst we are encouraging people to follow the social distancing measures and we are mindful that all our health services face significant demand, we don’t want this to stop people from seeking medical help if they have a serious or life threatening illness.

Over the last few months we’ve seen less people attend A&E with suspected Heart Attacks and Strokes. In addition, fewer people are contacting their GP practice with what we call “red flag” symptoms that would prompt investigations for Cancer. We also know more people are experiencing Mental Health issues during these difficult times. This is really worrying me and causing great concern to other health professionals in the Borough.

It’s important for us all to recognise that people will still experience serious and life threatening illnesses that aren’t related to Coronavirus during this time. So, I urge everyone that when it comes to Heart Attacks, Strokes, Cancer, and your Mental Health it’s really important to seek help as soon as you can. The NHS is still here to help you.

You should always dial 999 immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden Chest Pain that spread to your arms, back, neck or jaw, and feels heavy or tight, become short of breath or start to feel sick;
  • Signs of a Stroke, face drooping on one side, can’t hold both arms up, difficulty speaking.
  • If you are having severe difficulty breathing (such as gasping for breath, choking, lips turning blue, or not being able to get words out).

You should contact your GP practice, by telephone, if you experience any unexplained changes to your body. These are the “red flag” symptoms I mentioned earlier:

  • The sudden appearance of lumps and bumps;
  • Changes in your bowel habits;
  • Unexplained bleeding, such as blood in your pee or from your bottom;
  • Changes to any moles;
  • Unexplained weightloss.

When you telephone your GP Practice you may be asked a few more questions than usual, please be patient with them. Whilst most conversations with a GP or Nurse are taking place over the telephone or video calls, please be assured that you will get a face-to-face appointment if you really need one.

It’s important to remember that your GP practice is also there for you if you are struggling with your Mental Health. Children & Young People in the Borough can also access free online counselling, resources and support via Kooth, www.kooth.com. If you are experiencing a crisis you can get help via the Mental Health Crisis Line that’s available 24/7 on 01942 636395.

The NHS is still here for you and your loved ones if you experience any non-Coronavirus related illnesses. Please seek help when you need it. Stay safe everyone.