People with health problems are leaving it too late to get help, putting themselves at risk during lockdown medical bosses warn.
Health care professionals are urging people not to put off seeking medical help for problems that could become a bigger risk if not treated.
Nelson Marlborough healthcare professionals say people should call their doctor or practice nurse if they are sick in a bid to stop medical problems becoming more serious.
A delay in getting help because of fears about leaving isolation could see little problems develop into major issues, warns Nelson Marlborough Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Baker.
“We have seen cases recently where people have put off getting health care and illnesses have got worse.
“What may start as a minor issue could become serious if you leave it too long,” he says.
“Please don’t wait until the end of weekends, public holidays, or until the end of the lockdown period, to seek medical attention.”
GP clinics, health centres, Healthline, urgent care centres, pharmacies and emergency departments are open during lockdown.
“People can contact their local urgent care clinic or call the general Healthline number for advice.
“For emergencies, people shouldn’t hesitate to call 111 or go to a hospital emergency department.
“Our teams are there to provide care and that hasn’t changed during the Covid-19 response or lockdown period,” says Dr Baker.
Acting Chief Executive of Nelson Bays Primary Health Karen Winton encourages anyone to call their GP clinic for advice.
She says older people should be especially vigilant and reach out for help if they need it. Help is at hand, she says.
“These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures. But the message is clear, general practice (your family doctor) and urgent care centres are open for business, even if that business is delivered in a slightly different way.
“If you are over 70 and not meant to be leaving your home during the lockdown period, please call your GP first for a phone assessment.
“If you need to be seen, come in and they will make sure you are safe when you visit.
“Using a car to seek essential health care is allowed, and the sooner you are assessed, the better your health outcome will usually be.”
During lockdown, patients are being offered consultations over the phone, email or video call.
But people should not be afraid to leave their bubble for help if needed, with medical staff on hand to help. Patients will be seen in person if they need to be.
Dr Baker emphasises people should not delay seeking help for urgent needs due to fear of leaving their bubble and being at risk of being infected with COVID-19.
“New Zealand hospitals follow international best practice for infection prevention.
“Things will look different when you go to an after-hours clinic or ED. You may be screened – asked questions about your symptoms – at the door for example, given a mask to wear, or assessed in a cabin outside of the main building.
“These are all precautions to keep you and others safe from infection,” he says.
For more information about where to get healthcare in the Nelson Marlborough region, go to: www.nmdhb.govt.nz/healthcare/