Unintended consequences

Should we be worrying about what we will face once the COVID crisis is over?

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I am increasingly concerned about the unintended consequences of COVID. Obviously, there is the massive issue of the economy grinding to a halt and the world falling into a sustained depression, but I am talking about the issues that relate to patient care.

Many GP practices have completely changed their systems and moved to a telephone triage system. Most patients are now dealt with on the telephone utilising other options for consulting, such as video or patient emailed photos. Interestingly, there are a number of conditions that before the COVID crisis would have presented to their GP but have now melted away. There is an argument that maybe these patients could have managed for longer before seeking medical advice, but this has been difficult to deliver due to an environment of immediacy over continuity that we now work within.

However, I am more concerned about the unintended consequences of conditions not presenting or presenting very late which is causing harm. Alongside this there is a large volume of work rapidly building up for patients who cannot be seen in secondary care, but who will need to be seen once this is all over (so called third wave impact- see image below).


 

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Luke Koupparis

Medical editor, OnMedica

I am a GP in the Bristol area and also work as medical editor for OnMedica.
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