BERNARD Wright (The Yorkshire Post, April 6) takes Tom Richmond to task for suggesting GPs need to be reminded of their wider public-health responsibilities at a time when so many surgeries appear to have locked their doors, and put up the shutters, in the hope the public will go away.
May I suggest that the public would be able to form a better view of the rights and wrongs of this particular argument if they could actually get past their surgery receptionists and see what is going on for themselves?
Of course it has been necessary to protect medical staff and patients from Covid-19 over the past year, but the lockdown of NHS facilities has been a grotesque over-reaction that seems to have come at the expense of treatment for many other illnesses.
A recent poll by Cancer Research UK found that almost half of all patients with cancer symptoms did not contact their GP last year. This is a terrifying number that points to an appalling death toll in coming years as a result of patients failing to have their cancers diagnosed and treated in time.
And when it is considered the same is likely to be true of cardiac patients and sufferers from many other conditions, the likely consequences do not bear thinking about.
To give one example: a friend who has recently come out of hospital after suffering a stroke is now deeply reluctant to call his GP regarding his continuing treatment because the first time he tried the receptionist was so unpleasant and rude he cannot bear to go through that experience again.
I also have regular dealings with mental-health patients who tell a similar story.
For someone suffering from anxiety or depression, actually making that decision to pick up the phone and dial a GP to ask for help is a major effort and represents a huge step forward.
Yet I have spoken to numerous patients who say their contact was rebuffed at the first stage, that they couldn’t get an appointment, that their doctor is unavailable and that the experience has left them in no state of mind to try again. Such patients need to be treated with extreme sensitivity.
At a time when society is opening up, it seems too many surgery shutters are still firmly down.
Yet unless this changes soon, society is going to be paying a terrible price in coming years, with the dreadful prospect of this attempt to protect the NHS causing far more deaths than it has actually prevented.
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