Although the novel coronavirus has disrupted lives and made everyone concerned about staying healthy and avoiding things that increase the risk of contracting the virus, people can still get ill from other causes.
People with symptoms not related to the coronavirus and those with underlying health conditions still need to assess medical care, which may be difficult with the coronavirus restrictions. Getting the right treatment, you need at the right time is important, regardless of COVID-19 restrictions.
Below is all you should know about accessing medical care for non-COVID-19 related health issues.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Seeking medical care when you have symptoms not related to COVID-19 may seem like putting additional pressure on the health care system, and you might be worried about getting the virus at the clinic or hospital. However, your medical need is as important as before the coronavirus, and you need to get treatment on time.
The NHS and private practices have put different measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and people get the care they need.
If you feel unwell, you can contact your GP, although the GP may offer you a consultation over the phone, except being at the clinic is necessary. If you have an existing health condition, ensure you continue following your treatment plan and contact your doctor for any concern about your health condition.
Urgent healthcare needs
You can contact NHS 111 if you have an urgent but non-life-threatening issue. The new NHS system helps to reduce crowding and waiting times at the GP practice. The NHS 111 service allows you to book an appointment with a GP at an urgent care centre, and you can book a time at your local accident and emergency.
You can also contact your private GP to seek urgent medical care or call 999 for your medical emergency.
GP surgeries are still open and provide medical care, so you can visit when you have a medical need. You can visit your GP surgery’s website or call the clinic to schedule an appointment with the doctor.
The appointment may be via video chat, phone call or a face-to-face appointment. It will be best to avoid going to the clinic, except your GP advises you otherwise. Your GP may postpone your routine appointments and annual health checks, but inform your GP if you developed new symptoms since your last appointment, so your GP can decide whether you need to come for your check-up as planned.
Will my doctor postpone my treatment or appointment again?
At the onset of the pandemic, most clinics had to postpone appointments, surgeries, and treatment for older people, and some people are still waiting for the rescheduled appointments.
With the second wave of the pandemic, clinics and hospitals are trying to avoid rescheduling treatments and surgery again, but they may have to postpone your treatment or appointment if the pressure on the healthcare system mounts again.
Having your appointment or treatment rescheduled could be upsetting, especially if the condition causes pain and discomfort, but it may be the right course of action.
If your hospital or clinic has not called to reschedule your appointment, you can call them to know what is happening and when you would have your treatment or appointment. If you do not know the right number to contact, you can call the hospital’s switchboard to direct you to the right department.
Ensure you observe your symptoms and keep track of how you feel. If your symptom changes or worsens, inform your GP so they can decide on the right treatment for you. You can talk with your GP if you are concerned about your health and your delayed treatment. Talking to family and friends may also help you feel better.
How are treatments and appointments made now?
Outpatient appointments have had slight changes. Some people may get online video or phone consultation, while others will have their appointment rescheduled. People who need an in-office appointment do not need to bring a friend or family member to the appointment unless it is necessary.
When you are in the clinic, you need to wear a face mask covering your mouth and nose, except you have a medical condition that prevents you from covering your face.
Cancer treatment and urgent care
People with clinically urgent conditions and cancer are still a priority, but the doctor may review the treatment plan. Your medical team will inform you about the changes in your appointments and treatment.
Different processes are still in place to ensure people with cancer get their scheduled treatment. However, the mode of treatment may have slight changes. Special centres are now available for treating cancer safely, so you may need to receive treatment in a different hospital.
If you think you are showing cancer symptoms, ensure you contact your doctor immediately, so you can get treatment early if necessary.
Surgery and procedures
If you have a procedure or surgery, ensure you do the following;
- You, those you live with and people in your support bubble need to self-isolate before you go to the hospital for the procedure
- Take the PCR test near me before going to the hospital
Adhering to these safety measures helps reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
What to do if you have symptoms before your appointment
If you show coronavirus symptoms or someone you live with does, inform your healthcare provider before attending the appointment. Ensure you also inform the healthcare provider if the test and trace service has asked you to self-isolate.
Your healthcare provider will likely reschedule your appointment. However, those undergoing life-saving treatment may need to attend their appointment, and the caregiver would take extra measures to keep you and other people safe.
What to do if you need ongoing care from a clinically extremely vulnerable condition
If your health condition makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, and your doctor previously advised you to shield, contact the doctor about receiving continuing care.
How will I get to the clinic or hospital for my appointment?
Although patient transport services are available to transport patients to and from the clinic, these services are under more pressure now. You can ask a family member or friends to take you to your appointment if you have ongoing treatment. However, do not let someone showing symptoms take you to your appointment.
Transport services for patients are still available for some patients, but they have new guidelines. Patient transport companies prioritise the following persons.
Patients who are extremely vulnerable from the coronavirus and need ongoing care treatments or appointments but do not have access to private means of transportation
Suspected coronavirus patients who need ongoing care appointments but do not have access to private means of transportation
Patients who need life-sustaining treatments like dialysis at a medical care facility but have no access to the hospital
These patient transport services are taking extra precautions such as using the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning their vehicles.
Ensure you consult your healthcare provider to know whether you still need to attend your appointments.
What happens when I leave the hospital?
If you are in the hospital or admitted due to coronavirus, here are some things you should know about the discharge process.
The hospital will give you a leaflet explaining the discharge process. They will also explain the process when you get admitted.
A healthcare provider will review your condition regularly, and when you are well enough to leave the clinic, they will discharge you
When you have moved to a suitable location, which may be a care home, community hospital or your home, you will receive a more detailed recovery assessment and get further support
If you still need care after your discharge, you will receive the additional care at no extra fee for about six weeks. After this time, you may have to contribute to the cost of your care. The person coordinating your care would explain how it works.
Can I visit someone in the hospital?
If possible, a hospital will accommodate visitors. Allowing visitors into the hospital will depend on the coronavirus threat on the hospital and the best way to keep everyone safe.
If you or a household member is self-isolating due to coronavirus symptoms or a positive test result, you can’t visit someone in the hospital. You can’t also visit the hospital if the test and trace services advised you to self-isolate.
Ensure you consider the risk to your health before visiting someone in the hospital. Clinically extremely vulnerable people and those with immune-compromised conditions are at a higher risk of coronavirus illness and need extra precautions. If you must visit a relative, friend, or loved one in the hospital, ensure you call their ward to know the requirements in place.
Most hospitals allow patients to have one person at their bedside, but if they already have a carer, they won’t count as a visitor, so another person can be at the patient’s bedside as a visitor. If social distancing is possible while visiting a patient, the ward may allow up to four persons at the patient’s bedside. This may also be possible for someone receiving end-of-life care.
If you can visit someone in the hospital, you should take extra precautions.
Wash your hands properly before entering the hospital and while leaving
Do not touch your eyes or face
Wear a face mask during the visit, including entering and moving into the clinic, except a medical condition prevents you from wearing a mask. If you are a known or suspected case of coronavirus, wear a surgical face mask. You may need to wear PPE.
Go straight to the ward where your patient is and do not visit other areas in the hospital
Avoid touching many of your possessions
You will have to give your name and contact details when visiting the hospital
You can use other means to stay in touch with a loved one, like video or phone call if you can’t visit them in the hospital. The hospital may allow you to deliver a phone if the patient does not have one or provide a device to allow you to video call the person you want to visit.
Can I get a dentist’s appointment?
Some dental practices are open, but most do not provide their usual services. If you visit your dentist, there will be measures put in place to keep you safe. You will have to wash your hands before entering and leaving the clinic. You would also wear a face mask in the clinic and practise social distancing
If possible, go to the dental practice alone to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. You can wait outside the clinic if you arrive early for your appointment. Some practices advise patients to wait in their care until they receive a text to come in for their appointment.
If you are due for your dental check-up or need dental care, contact your dentist to check if you can visit the clinic and determine how they manage their patients’ requirements. If your practice is not available, they will refer you to an urgent care centre or advise you on getting the right care.
Most dental practices may not be offering routine check-ups and treatments. Try not to visit your dental clinic if you or any household member is self-isolating because someone had positive private PCR tests near me result or coronavirus symptoms.
If you feel unwell and experience COVID-19 symptoms, ensure you contact Private Blood Tests London on 020 7183 0244 to book for your COVID-19 test.
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