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‘Patients are not presenting to GP for fear of catching Covid’ – Dr Doireann and Dr Sayyada

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by IMAGE
30th Jun 2020
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GPs Dr Doireann O’Leary and Dr Sayyada Mawji on the worrying trend of patients not presenting to hospital for fear of catching Covid-19. 


Patients across Ireland and the UK are not presenting to GPs or hospitals when they are sick for fear of catching Covid-19, two doctors have said.

Dr Doireann O’Leary, based in Cork, and Dr Sayyada Mawji, based in London in the UK, are calling on those showing symptoms of any illness or injury to contact their GP.

In conversation with IMAGE group contributing editor Melanie Morris, as part of Week 2 of Self-care Sundays, in partnership with Yoplait, both GPs reiterated the message that GP practices and hospitals are safe places for sick people.

Register for Week 3 Self-care Sundays: Movement with Liz Costigan Fleury for free here

“People haven’t been attending their GP to get their blood pressure checked as usual as they might have done before, they’re too frightened to attend their GP services and too frightened to go to hospital,” said Dr Doireann.

“I’ve so many people who just won’t go [to hospital]. People have been too frightened to make contact with their GP, attend healthcare appointments and we’ve had to cut back on so many outpatient appointments, screening services, hospital services.

“That’s one of the second waves we’re going to have to deal with, is that consequence of four months where healthcare was down to the bare bones. We’re going to have to play catch up on that and I don’t know how that’s going to play out … We’ve a lot of work ahead of us to get the health of people back to what it was.”

Register for Week 3 Self-care Sundays: Movement with Liz Costigan Fleury for free here

Dr Sayyada, who has started a campaign #stillherestillcare to urge people to contact their GPs if they are ill, says it’s the same in the UK.

“There will be that backlog that we have to catch up with. Something that is quite worrying is patients being scared to come to the GP or not wanting to go to hospital because of the worry of catching coronavirus.

“There was a period where I was seeing, in my normal clinics, so many more emergency or acute cases and patients were on the phone or on [a video call] saying ‘I don’t think I need to come in for an actual physical examination’ and when they would come in, they would actually be quite unwell,” says Dr Sayyada.

“We still want you to reach out, not to delay coming in just for the worry of coming into hospital, because protocols are in place for patients to be seen safely.”

For more on IMAGE Self-care Sundays click here

The doctors also highlighted the need to wear masks in public places where social distancing is not possible.

“We have to get on board with the new information and adapt as the new information becomes available,” said Dr Doireann.

“I recommend that anybody who can wear a face mask, wears one, in places where physical distancing is not possible. Most typically on public transport it’s really important, when grocery shopping, or in shopping centres. You don’t have to wear it if you’re standing alone at a bus stop stop or if you’re in the car.

“The idea of the face covering is that you don’t unknowingly spread the virus to somebody else so your mask protects others and that’s the bottom line.”

Dr Sayyada said, “We did go back and forth a little bit with face masks but guidelines at the moment are that we do have facial covering especially on public transport, and anywhere where we’re not able to maintain that two-metre distance.”


Dr Doireann and Dr Sayyada were taking part in a virtual conversation with Melanie as part of Week 2 of Self-care Sundays: Health. This is an eight-part virtual series, in partnership with Yoplait, where we bring experts from the wellness, medical, fitness and nutrition industry into your home. For more information on Self-care Sundays, click here.

To register for Week 3 of Self-care Sundays: Movement with Liz Costigan Fleury, click here. This virtual conversation, including a 30 minute yoga class, takes place on July 5 from 12pm.

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