Older patients encouraged to visit GP surgeries for medical conditions

The number of people over 75 who have visited GP surgeries during the pandemic has fallen dramatical

The number of people over 75 who have visited GP surgeries during the pandemic has fallen dramatically. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Doctors are reassuring older people in North Somerset they are safe and welcome to go into GP surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of patients over the age of 75 who are visiting their GPs has dropped dramatically since the outbreak and doctors are concerned some patients may be missing out on vital support and treatment for medical conditions.

Dr Alison Bolam from NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) urged patients to contact their practice if they have any concerns about their health.

She said: “I want to give my assurance to our patients that we are still here and you must not hesitate to get in touch with your GP practice if you have concerns about your health.

“Whilst it is still important to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak, it is also just as important to seek medical advice for any other illnesses or conditions.

“Please call your practice in the normal way to make an appointment. If phone lines are busy please persist until you get through to a receptionist who will arrange for a GP to call you if needed to discuss your problem.

“If the GP needs to see you in person you will be offered an appointment to attend the practice or the GP will visit you if required.”

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All practices are managing social distancing in waiting rooms and have separate areas so that patients with symptoms of coronavirus do not come into contact with non-coronavirus areas. Patients are encouraged to wear a mask, if they have one, or they will be offered one at the practice. GPs will wear a mask, apron and gloves, or if there is any possibility of coronavirus, they will wear full personal protective equipment (PPE).

Patients who are shielded will have their individual needs assessed and can visit a non-coronavirus area of the practice or be seen at home if needed.

Kay Libby, chief executive of Age UK Bristol, said some older people were avoiding practices over concerns that GPs may be too busy caring for patients with coronavirus.

She said: “It is likely that the people who are avoiding GP appointments are the ones who need them the most as they are more likely to have age-related health conditions. We encourage older people and those who care for them to contact their GP if they have any concerns.”

Older people who would like help with practical, social or emotional issues can contact the Support Hub for Older People on 01179 297537.

Patients who think they may have coronavirus should contact NHS 111 either online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111.