Risk of 'serious consequences' if non-COVID conditions unmanaged or untreated, warns College

Publication date: 09 April 2020

Commenting on the dangers of non-COVID conditions or illnesses being unmanaged or untreated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and urging patients who are seriously ill to seek medical care, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has said:

"Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, patients of all ages, are still living with long-term health conditions and becoming sick from non-COVID-related illnesses, which if left unmanaged or untreated could have serious consequences. We have seen this happen in previous pandemics.

"GPs and our teams are still working hard to deliver care to all patients, whether related to COVID-19 or not. Like all parts of the NHS, we are currently working under pressure, but if patients are seriously ill or concerned about their health, we would encourage them to seek medical attention, either via NHS 111 or their GP – or in an emergency by calling 999.

"GP practices are working differently during the pandemic with a focus on triage systems and remote consultations to ensure patients receive the most appropriate care – but we are still seeing patients face to face, if necessary.

"Some workload prioritisation is necessary to keep general practice – and in turn the rest of the NHS – sustainable during the pandemic. As such, the RCGP is recommending tasks such as routine health checks, arranging travel vaccinations and patient admin requests be postponed. But care for people who are acutely unwell, the management of patients who have serious long-term conditions, such as cancer, asthma and diabetes, and essential preventative health interventions such as immunisation programmes will continue. The College has developed guidance to help GPs and their teams to manage this.

"COVID-19 is understandably at the forefront of everyone's mind – but GPs are here to treat people with other illnesses and conditions, as well. We would urge patients not to put off seeking medical attention for fear of over-burdening the system, or for fear of contracting the virus. Every precaution will be taken to keep them as safe as possible, should a face to face consultation be necessary."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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