NHS is busy but open for business – ease pressure by following Covid rules, says Dr Zoe
THE NHS is open, so please don’t stop using it. All I ask is that if you do need to use it, please be kind to the staff.
The doctors, nurses and support workers you come into contact with have been living and working in the eye of this Covid storm for nearly a year now.
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Those on the front line, especially staff working in intensive care, are exhausted, both physically and mentally. Many haven’t had more than a few days off in the last year.
During the first wave, many moved out of their homes, separating themselves from their partners and children to protect them, while they faced Covid every single day.
Most people who become a doctor, nurse or healthcare worker do so because they want to help others, and during the pandemic they have made huge sacrifices. They’ve all put others before themselves.
So when I see people standing outside hospitals denying Covid exists, claiming it’s all a hoax and being aggressive to NHS staff, I respectfully ask that you take those protests elsewhere.
I know everyone is frustrated and upset. But just remember, NHS staff are frustrated and upset, too.
They can’t get away from this. They can’t switch off and get on with their days. They are dealing with this at work, and in their personal lives.
Last year, we all stood outside and clapped and banged pots and pans for the NHS.
It was lovely and it was appreciated.
But in the current situation, with a more infectious Covid strain circulating and hospitals treating even more patients than in the first wave, NHS staff have made it clear we can all do one thing to help – follow the rules and stay at home.
If you need the NHS, you will still receive excellent care, but you might just need to be a bit more patient.
Phones might take longer to answer, you may have to wait a bit longer to be attended to, but you will get the care you need.
That said, there are things we can all do to help ease the pressure – and it starts by accessing the right part of the NHS.
For anything life threatening, don’t even think about it, just dial 999 or get to A&E as soon as you can.
If something is serious but isn’t an emergency, call 111 instead. If they think you need an ambulance, they can call one. If not, they can book you an arrival time slot at A&E so you won’t have to wait as long.
DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE
On the other hand, if it’s something more minor, your local pharmacist can help. They are well qualified to deal with short-lived illnesses such as tummy pains, diarrhoea and minor allergies and skin rashes.
They can advise on a range of treatments and offer many of the medicines that we GPs write prescriptions for.
They can give out the morning-after pill. They can offer general health advice, too, if people are looking to lose weight or become more active.
If you notice cold symptoms or a cough, it is important you stay at home and get a Covid test.
Drink lots of fluids and take paracetamol and ibuprofen – suggestions that it’s not safe as a Covid treatment that were around at the start of the pandemic have been disproved.
If you are struggling to breathe and are concerned, you should call either your GP or 111. If it’s an emergency and you are really, really struggling, call 999.
There are special teams set up to help monitor Covid patients in their homes so don’t suffer in silence. We know previously young and healthy people have died after struggling, so don’t be afraid to get your breathing checked.
A key sign is if you’re getting breathless when brushing your teeth, washing your face or eating – that’s when alarm bells should be ringing.
It’s not just about Covid. If you’ve been having any symptoms longer-term, be it tummy pain, diarrhoea, anything that could be a sign of cancer – a lump or unexplained weight loss for example – if you’ve been having chest pains or signs of a mini stroke, please call your GP.
They want to hear from you – they would rather you called and got it checked out than waited, only for something sinister to be growing.
With things like cancer, early diagnosis saves lives. So don’t ignore changes to your body, give us a call and get yourself checked out.
The NHS is busy but not too busy. It’s open and we doctors want to hear from our patients.
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