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There's more to looking after yourself than this virus

Health is about more than the Covid-19 teating going on here

SIXTY four per cent of people in Scotland are less likely to access non-emergency health services amid the Coronavirus lockdown according to a survey. The YouGov Direct poll, commissioned by drug, alcohol and mental health charity We Are With You, found that the biggest barrier to people accessing health services was concerns about placing extra strain on the NHS (55pc). This was followed by fear of catching Covid-19 (18pc) and needing to remain in self isolation (6pc). The news comes as Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership said: "Please be reassured that your GP practice is there to support you and therefore please continue to access your GP services when you need them." The new findings mirror We Are With You's own UK-wide data which shows that referrals into treatment across its drug alcohol and mental health services have dropped by 52pc since January. In particular, alcohol referrals have fallen by 72pc during the lockdown period when compared to January 2020. The charity said: "However, the number of people contacting We Are With You's online webchat service has increased in March and April compared to the first two months of the year. And calls to We Are With You in Scotland's helpline have risen by 200pc during lockdown. The percentage of alcohol related calls has risen from 32pc of all calls, to 50pc of all calls during this time." The survey also found that more than six million people are worried about the drinking of someone they know during the current restrictions. The most common reasons people in Scotland think someone may use alcohol at the current time are boredom (80pc), loneliness (60pc) and anxiety (54pc). 92pc of people surveyed think support from a family member or friend is important in helping someone with an alcohol problem, but only 23pc would be very confident in starting discussions. Meanwhile, people are most likely to access advice online if they are concerned about a friend's or family member's drinking. Sammie volunteers with We Are With You and is in recovery from alcohol. She said: “I told myself that because I used to drink in fits and spurts rather than every day I didn't have an issue. Alcohol made me feel confident and dulled my anxiety but once I started, I struggled to stop - with serious consequences for myself and my family. “When I first started working with We Are With You I was really sceptical about what they could offer. But the staff were warm and didn't judge or label me. My key worker Dawn asked me what I wanted to achieve and worked alongside me to get to that point. Now I'm using my experiences to support others. “The current restrictions are tough for people like me who are in recovery. Isolation, boredom and anxiety are big factors which lead to people drinking more. And without work or other obligations to keep people in check, some people may go into spirals of drinking like I used to. But the support is still out there; online support groups are helping me cope and I still speak to Dawn on the phone. You don't need to go through your GP or worry about putting extra strain on the NHS.” Meanwhile, Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership said: ""It is clear that COVID-19 will continue to be with us for some time and GP practices will need to maintain many of the measures that have been in place over the past few weeks in order to protect patients and the practice team. "Wherever possible, patients needing to access GP services are receiving telephone and video consultations, with patients attending the practice premises only where necessary. Patients should feel reassured that online appointments are completely safe and secure and the technology is very easy to use. These types of appointment allow patients to access the care they need while staying at home, helping to reduce the spread of the virus. "If you do need to be examined then you will be invited to attend for appointment in the surgery. Please be reassured that all practices have arrangements in place to support social distancing and do not be unduly concerned that some of the practice team may be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). "Access to all GP practices is now by prior arrangement, so, if you need help from your GP practice please do get in touch by telephone and do not attend the surgery in person without an appointment. "In the first instance, anyone experiencing mild symptoms of coronavirus should look at the information relating to COVID-19 on the NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus. "Should further advice or guidance be needed, call NHS24 on 111."

<< back Published: 07 May 2020, 12:09

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