Campaign launched encouraging people to access NHS services when needed

A campaign is being launched today (Tuesday 21 April) to remind local people to seek medical care when they need it with a focus on life changing and life threatening illnesses.

Using #NHSHereForYou, the messages include when to see your GP, spotting signs of cancer, when to call 999 and how NHS 111 online can help individuals to manage less serious health issues.

The call comes after recent figures at a national and local level shows that there has been considerably fewer people going to their local accident and emergency departments in comparison to previous years. In addition, medical professionals are concerned by the drop in the number of people seeking advice about possible cancer symptoms through their GP resulting in a marked reduction in urgent cancer referrals.

Dr Wayne Hamer, Emergency Medicine Consultant at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We understand that people will be anxious about attending our emergency departments at the moment and not want to contribute to the current pressures on the NHS, however, we want to remind people we are still here for serious illnesses and injuries and if you think you are experiencing the symptoms of these then you must dial 999 or attend the emergency department.

He continued: “When patients attend there may be a few differences to the systems and processes and areas they are treated in. The main ones being that they will need to attend alone as we are not allowing visitors into the hospitals at the moment for infection prevention reasons and our staff will be wearing personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, aprons or gowns to protect themselves and patients from the virus.  The emergency departments have been divided into high and low risk areas and if patients require care, but don’t have Covid-19 symptoms, then they will be seen in the low risk areas where there is little chance of being exposed to the virus.”

Dr Sarah Forbes, GP and Associate Medical Director for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It’s really important that people seek emergency medical care when they need it, and not put this off for a later date.

“You should call 999 for life-threatening emergencies, this includes chest pain, blackouts, severe blood loss that can’t be stopped, a serious injury, or if you think you’re having a stroke. Some people may decide that they don’t want to access emergency services, and this could possibly be due to fear of coronavirus or not wanting to burden the NHS. Please do not put your health at risk and get seen by a healthcare professional, you will be treated in a safe, low risk environment.

“Access to your local GP practice has changed but this doesn’t mean it’s stopping you contacting us for any health concerns. I would strongly advise you to get in touch with your GP practice if you have concerns regarding ongoing conditions, ear discharge / pain, rashes, and stomach aches. If you have any cancer symptoms such as a lump in your breast, changes in bowel habits, blood in your pee or poo, unexplained weight loss, moles that appear to change or cough that you’ve had for three weeks or more please get in touch with your GP practice as soon as possible.

“A recent call from the Stroke Association reminds people not to ignore the signs and symptoms of stroke, as it can lead to disability or even death*. This shows the importance of accessing emergency services at the right time, so that you have a better chance of recovery.

“If you have coronavirus or symptoms of this, and need to access emergency services, please tell the 999 operator and mention to paramedics on arrival.”

Please follow @NHSLeeds on Twitter or Facebook.com/nhsleeds to share the #NHSHereForYou messages.

For the latest advice on coronavirus please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

ENDS

Notes to editors

When to call 999

If you have any of the following life-threatening emergencies, call 999:

  • Choking
  • Chest pain
  • Blackout
  • Severe bleeding
  • A serious injury
  • If you think you’re having a stroke

For further information visit https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/urgent-and-emergency-care/when-to-call-999/

Symptoms of a stroke

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST – you must call 999 if you have the following:

  • Face – face is drooping/fallen on one side, unable to smile, or the mouth or eye have dropped
  • Arms – unable to raise both arms and keep them there
  • Speech – speech is slurred or garbled
  • Time – dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms

For further information visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/

Signs and symptoms of cancer

Visit the NHS website which highlights all the signs and symptoms of cancer https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/symptoms/

*Stroke is still a medical emergency – Stroke Association

This article can be viewed on the following link https://www.stroke.org.uk/news/coronavirus-what-were-doing