The NHS is there for you, not just if you have Covid19
The NHS is rightly being widely praised for its work with coronavirus patients. However, it is no secret that our healthcare service is under strain and not fully equipped to deal with a pandemic. Many doctors and nurses are coming out of retirement and risking their own health to tirelessly treat patients suffering from covid19.
Consequently, it is understandable that you would not want to apply added pressure to the NHS. If you need urgent medical advice for a non-coronavirus related issue, such as an accident, or worsening of an existing or new illness, you must get help quickly.
You may worry that exposure to possible coronavirus in a hospital setting could bring added risk. The NHS doctors and nurses, want to assure you that they are here for you! Even during a pandemic!
The following advice is straight from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. They are extremely concerned that people without Coronavirus are currently dying as a result of delaying too long getting to hospital.
The AMRC urges patients to keep seeking medical help for serious conditions during the Covid19 pandemic. They are concerned that patients and carers may not be seeking help when they need it. This delay can mean that, unfortunately when they get to hospital, they may be too ill to be saved.
They know from previous epidemics that there is a danger of increased harm and deaths. This is from issues that are not related to COVID-19. Patients should seek treatment for other urgent or serious health problems.
The message from medical leaders across the UK is:
— You should continue to seek NHS help through your GP, NHS 111, 999 or A&E. This is if you or your family become acutely unwell. And you believe that you may be suffering from a serious or life-threatening condition.
— You should continue with ongoing treatments for all your medical conditions. This includes attending any hospital or GP appointments. Routine care continues, where possible, through phone calls or video links. They will ask you to attend only if absolutely necessary.
— Hospitals are safer than your own home if you are in need of emergency care. The re-organisation of services includes protecting patients with conditions other than COVID-19.
Covid19 advice campaigns say you should stay at home and self-isolate if you feel ill. This is effective if you are displaying coronavirus symptoms to prevent spread of the disease. However, by delaying seeking urgent medical advice for non-coronavirus issues, people can become severely ill and harder to treat.
Medical incident logs have shown that there have been fewer admissions to A&E during the lockdown. The patients who do visit are arriving in a worse state. Seeking medical advice much sooner could prevent this.
Children at risk
The medical log leaks given to openDemocracy are from an NHS paediatric service. They show a worrying pattern that the parents of sick children are hesitating before bringing their kids to hospital.
The government promotes a stay-at-home message, designed to back-up social distancing and prevent the spread of coronavirus. This is appropriate for adults – but dangerous for children.
Professor Russell Viner is the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). He privately contacted the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty. urging an immediate change in the government’s public information strategy.
Central to Viner’s concern was the very low number of children currently coming to hospitals. Along with the hugely reduced numbers being referred by GPs.
Paediatricians from across the UK have also reported to the RCPCH that children are arriving at hospital with illnesses at a far more advanced stage than they would normally see.
The BBC has reported that Dr Richard Brown, a consultant paediatrician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, said there were “recurrent themes”. These include ruptured appendixes and severe sepsis. These affect young children who had not come to hospital as soon as they should. My niece, who is a Paediatric A&E Consultant in the Midlands, concurs with this. She has seen a marked reduction in admissions overall, however the children who are coming in have been very seriously unwell.
The NHS was there for Nathan
Carlie says ‘he was close to being intubated, put in a coma and sent to the ICU, but luckily he responded well to the IV meds. He was on about five different ones as well as having a total of 31 nebulisors.’
She shares that it was no doubt the right decision and praises the care they received at Tameside General Hospital. To people who may worry about contracting Covid19 in hospital, Carlie says:
‘The doctors and nurses will be wearing masks, gloves and aprons, which they dispose of after each patient, there’s hand sanitiser available for everyone to use. Parents and patients get a mask each upon arrival, and visitors are limited to one parent each and no siblings.
‘They have changed the paediatrics A&E part to actually part of the Children’s Unit to try and minimise the risk of infection, keeping the children separate from the rest of the hospital.
Elderly at risk
The United States of America are experiencing a similar situation. Emergency room visits are down by about 50% across New York City Health + Hospital locations, according to data shared with CNBC, a trend seen across the nation. Dr. Rod Hochman said his elderly brother-in-law “was petrified” of going to the hospital for a necessary doctor’s appointment, fearing he would catch the coronavirus.
This feeling is widespread amongst elderly people all over the world. This is largely due to the older people being classified as a high-risk group.
Physicians worry that patients with severe illnesses may suffer permanent damage by avoiding A&E.
Dr Hochman has said it is ‘too good to be true’ that injury statistics are down. He adds, ‘heart attacks don’t just stop’.
Stephen Powis, NHS England’s National Medical Director, warned people with stroke and heart attack symptoms and pregnant women concerned about their babies that they should still seek emergency care.
Please read our guide below, with a reminder as to when to call an ambulance, contact your GP or treat your family at home:
When to call an ambulance
If you are still unsure when to seek urgent medical attention, the following information aims to help you with this extremely important decision. Babies and children can deteriorate very quickly – so monitor them closely, trust your instincts and seek medical advice quickly if you are worried.
The decision will vary from case to case, but we would strongly advise to administer First Aid and call an ambulance (phone 999 or 112) if the casualty:
- Appears not to be breathing, is having chest pain, struggling for breath, or breathing in a strange way appearing to ‘suck in’ below their rib cage to help them to breathe.
- If they have a severe injury that is bleeding profusely and you are unable to stop with direct pressure on the wound.
- If they are unconscious or unaware of what is going on around them or experiencing weakness, numbness or difficulty speaking.
- Call an ambulance if someone has a seizure for the first time, even if they seem to recover from it later. It is important to phone an ambulance if someone is having a seizure which lasts longer than 3 minutes.
- If someone has a severe allergic reaction it is important to administer their adrenaline auto injector. Then phone an ambulance immediately.
- For a child or an elderly person: if they suffer a burn and it is severe enough that you think it will need dressing – treat the burn under cool running water and call an ambulance. Keep cooling the burn until the paramedics arrive – look out for signs of shock. For an adult – cool the burn for a full 20 minutes – longer if it is still extremely painful and then apply a burns dressing or loosely cover with cling film and transfer them for immediate medical attention.
- If someone has fallen from a height, been hit by something travelling at speed (like a car), been undertaking some form of spinal manipulation, been hit with force whilst doing combat or contact sport and there is a possibility of a spinal injury –
- Keep them completely still and get an ambulance on the way if they are conscious.
- Very carefully roll them into the recovery position and then phone an ambulance if they are on their back, unconscious and breathing.
- Do this by very carefully log rolling them into the recovery position, without twisting their spine if at all possible. Ensure you have robust contingency plans in place to ensure you can get additional help to your treatment room in an emergency.
- If they are unconscious and not breathing, start CPR. For a child or baby, do one minute of CPR before phoning an ambulance. For an adult, phone an ambulance immediately, and get an AED if there is one available.
Take someone straight to A&E (or phone 111 during Covid19) if they have:
- A fever and are floppy and lethargic
- Severe abdominal pain
- A cut that is gaping or losing a lot of blood, have amputated a finger or if there is something embedded in the wound.
- A leg or arm injury and can’t use the limb
- Swallowed poison or tablets and are not showing any adverse effects (111 can give you advice from the poisons database).
- If they are behaving strangely or experiencing any symptoms from the poison; call an ambulance immediately.
When to go to your Family Doctor:
For other less serious and non-life-threatening medical concerns, contact your GP or phone 111 for medical advice.
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It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit?https://firstaidforlife.org.uk?or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.
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First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.