Another week is almost over and the news headlines have been dominated by COVID.

Whilst the threat of the new variant is the most immediate crisis we face, I want to remind you all that we GPs are still continuing to see and treat all non-COVID medical problems too; these haven’t been forgotten about. 

Last weekend we heard the PM state that the rollout of the booster vaccines would be brought forward from the end of January to the end of this year and that some services might need to be paused to ensure this can be done. GPs are struggling still to catch up with the backlog from the services that were paused during the first lockdown - this isn’t going to be easy!

With patients waiting over 2 years for knee and hip operations to several hospital appointments being pushed back, it’s not been a great time for people suffering from other medical problems.

During the first lockdown, the messages were to stay home and protect the NHS. Heartbreakingly many interpreted this to mean they should not seek medical help from their GP. We saw a significant drop in the number of people calling for their chronic health problems and worst of all with symptoms of cancer that were delayed. We cannot repeat this again.

GP surgeries are under immense pressure right now as we step up our efforts even more to do whatever we have to do to support the public through this next phase and beyond. What can you do to help?

In the run-up to Christmas, check your medication stock. If you’re on any repeat medications, order them now as practices will be closed over the public holidays and out-of-hours services really shouldn’t be used for this purpose.

If you have any new or persistent symptoms that are causing you any concerns, do not put them off. Make it a habit to self-check your breasts (men and women), testicles, any moles, etc and keep an eye on your bowels. Nothing is ever embarrassing when it comes to your health and wellbeing, so if you’re worried, call your GP.

If you are overdue for a check-up for your BP, medication review, annual blood tests, smears, mammograms, book these in now. Enter the new year with your healthcare needs being a priority.

Ensure you are up to date with your jabs - COVID and flu vaccine. Everyone now over the age of 18 is eligible to book their booster and this is vital in our fight against COVID. The Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire and so be cautious when you’re out and about. Do your lateral flow tests (which you can pick up from a local pharmacy or order online here) but if you develop symptoms please self-isolate and do a PCR test. There’s too many folk not doing this, we need to protect each other now more than ever. Wear your face coverings, keep your windows open if you’ve got guests at home and don’t slip up with the handwashing.


Lastly, be patient with your GP teams. They really are doing their best to help you. If you need care over the festive period then contact 111 unless it’s a medical emergency where you should contact 999. It’s going to be a very busy few weeks ahead for those of us on the frontlines but we’ve got your back! So take care of yourself and have a merry Christmas.