Patients not attending urgent endoscopies because of fears of Covid-19 are at risk of missing the opportunity for diagnosis and treatment of serious conditions, warn doctors.
Initially up to 20% of patients across Kent and Medway did not attend or chose to delay their procedure after the first lockdown was lifted because of worries about catching the virus.
Patients are urged to attend for their urgent endoscopy because their doctor thinks they may have a serious condition, possibly cancer, which needs investigating.
Dr Henry Taylor, Clinical Director for the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance, said: “If you have been referred for an urgent endoscopy, the risk of missing a diagnosis and any possible treatment far outweighs what is a low risk of catching any infection in hospital. I urge you to attend if you can.”
Hospital teams are taking significant steps to minimise the risk of Covid-19, which include stringent infection controls and the use of PPE, including a requirement for all staff and patients to wear masks.
Only patients without any Covid-19 symptoms are allowed into non-Covid areas of hospitals, where endoscopy clinics are based. Social distancing, hand hygiene and frequent surface cleaning are enforced. In endoscopy units, all clinical staff are in PPE, rooms are deep cleaned after each procedure, including filtering rooms’ air between patients.
Patients triaged and assessed as routine may have a longer wait to be seen. They are encouraged to seek advice from their hospital endoscopy team if their symptoms change or worsen.
For further information about your endoscopy, visit: nhs.uk/conditions/endoscopy/
Also visit kentandmedwayccg.nhs.uk/your-health/coronavirus/nhs-here-for-you for updates on health services in Kent and Medway.