MP Conor McGinn is urging residents to continue to seek medical help from GPs and NHS services if they feel something is wrong with their health, as new figures revealed a sharp fall in the number of patients being referred to services to treat potentially serious medical conditions.
Figures obtained by the St Helens North MP from St Helens CCG show there were a total of 14,495 GP referred first Out-Patient attendances between April 2020, shortly after England went into lockdown, and September that year.
This was 9,084 fewer than over the same period the previous year – a fall of some 39 per cent.
Within this, cardiology referrals dropped by 25 per cent, those for diabetes 23 per cent, while trauma and orthopaedics referrals fell by 68 per cent over the same six-month period.
The overall figures for October 2020 – the latest month for which figures are given – are still some 28 per cent lower than the previous October.
Mr McGinn said he will continue to work closely with local GPs, hospitals and the council and to raise awareness among residents that the NHS remains open for those who need it.
He praised NHS staff at every level for their dedication and ingenuity, which has kept non-covid services running throughout the pandemic.
Conor McGinn MP said: “It’s concerning to find that out-patient referrals fell sharply during the first lockdown, especially when we know these appointments make a real difference to the early diagnosis and effective treatment of many illnesses.
“Local NHS staff, St Helens CCG and their partners have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep the NHS up and running, and I will keep working closely with them to raise awareness that wider services continue.
“We know how much pressure the system has been under and the response to covid-19 is still very much at the forefront of everything the NHS is doing. But we can’t lose sight of that fact that in places like St Helens we have higher incidences of heart disease, cancers, respiratory diseases as well as conditions like diabetes – and we need to ensure we aren’t storing up problems and exacerbating existing inequalities.
“To all residents, please continue to contact your GP if you feel something is wrong with your health and remember that qualified NHS professionals are at hand to help, even at this most difficult of times.”