Over half of Irish people worried about visiting their GP during Covid-19 2 weeks ago

Over half of Irish people worried about visiting their GP during Covid-19

"With check-ups and appointments being cancelled and people reluctant to seek medical attention during lockdown."

Over half of Irish people are worried about making GP appointments during Covid-19.

New research has shown that 51% of people are concerned about going to see their GP amid the pandemic, while 49% are worried about going to hospital.

The study, conducted by Pfizer, showed that one third of people said their health had been negatively affected by the pandemic and the restrictions put in place. This was highest among those with a medical condition at 39% and among 25-34-year olds at 43%.

People who cited concern about contacting their GP said the main reasons were a lack of access to a doctor (46%), treatment delays (28%), and a lack of access to diagnostics or tests (25%).

During Ireland's first lockdown, most screening and testing centres shut down as the country got to grips with new social distancing measures and restrictions. BreastCheck, CervicalCheck, and BowelCheck screening services eventually recommenced towards the end of summer.

26% of people stated that they would not visit a GP during the height of the pandemic at all, while 27% said the same about a hospital. Just 6% of people were screened for cancer, high cholesterol, blood pressure during April, May and June.

These new statistics come during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time for educating the public about the symptoms of breast cancer and encouraging women to contact a healthcare professional if they are concerned about changes in their body.

Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy for the Irish Cancer Society says that cancer patients should be diagnosed as quickly as possible, "so they stand the best chance of survival and having a good quality of life."

"Thankfully, the number of people being referred to cancer rapid access clinics is increasing but our message remains the same - when it comes to cancer, early detection is key and can be the difference between life or death in some cases," she says.

"That’s why it’s so important people contact their GP immediately if they notice potential cancer symptoms like a lump, bleeding, weight loss or fatigue. There are still people out there who are suffering with symptoms in silence and it’s vital that they seek help and call their GP today.”

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy and Patient Support at the Irish Heart Foundation adds that the pandemic will continue to affect the health of Ireland's population for some time.

"With check-ups and appointments being cancelled and people reluctant to seek medical attention during lockdown, we will likely be seeing the long-term impact of this over time," he says.

"We are urging Government not to redeploy vital frontline staff from cardiac and stroke services to meet new surges of the pandemic and we are urging the public to seek immediate medical care if they experience heart issues or symptoms of stroke. Any delay in seeking urgent medical care could have fatal consequences.”

If you are concerned about changes in your body, you should always contact your GP.