A senior doctor has called on patients to continue to seek medical help during the COVID-19 crisis.
The advice is important to families caring for people with autism, who often have underlying health conditions.
Many people with autism list health issues such as epilepsy, gut problems and mental health conditions. These problems can impact significantly on their lives.
Continue to seek medical help
Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, has joined with other health leaders from across the UK to call on the public to continue to seek appropriate medical help during the pandemic.
Currently, the advice to the public is that people should stay at home to protect lives and reduce the pressure on the NHS.
However, health leaders are concerned that some of those who need medical assistance are not seeking the support they require. This situation could lead to people placing their own health and those they care for at risk.
Range of other conditions
Professor Taylor explained: “It’s right that the COVID-19 pandemic is at the forefront of all of our thoughts right now. At the same time, the public must understand that many of us will continue to need medical assistance for a range of other conditions that have nothing to do with this virus.
“My personal message for the public is that if you need medical attention, it’s really important that you get the support you require.
“Overall, the risk of developing other serious or life-threatening conditions remains unchanged during the COVID pandemic and people must be fully confident that they can and should seek medical assistance if they are worried about themselves or a relative.
“You can continue to get in touch with your GP or call NHS 111 or NHS 24 in Scotland. If it’s an emergency, you should call 999. All of these services are continuing to operate normally throughout this period.”
Increased harm from other health problems
Professor Taylor pointed out that while the NHS has postponed many routine or non-urgent appointments in order to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic, this does not apply to urgent or emergency illnesses.
She said: “What we’re concerned about is that our experience from previous epidemics tells us that there is a danger of increased harm and deaths from issues that are not related to COVID-19, simply because patients have delayed or not sought medical assistance for other urgent or serious health problems.”
She acknowledged that people are anxious about visiting their GP’s surgery or going to hospital because they have concerns about leaving their homes and the risk of catching COVID-19.
NHS is still here for you
Professor Taylor said: “During this pandemic, the NHS is still here for you. We are open for business and we are never too busy to look after patients with urgent and serious needs.”
The full statement from the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges can be found online by clicking here.
Published: 20 April 2020