Health and care partners across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw are appealing to local people to continue using GP and emergency care services during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

This follows a reported sharp reduction in the numbers of people seeking urgent and time-critical care for other ‘non-Covid-19’ major health conditions such as stroke and heart disease.

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw’s NHS organisations have reported a sharp decline in numbers using emergency services and primary care settings, such as GP centres, for major health conditions that include heart attacks, stroke, transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs).

NHS organisations are also worried that children with emergency health needs and women who have issues with their pregnancy aren’t seeking help early enough.

All of the region’s NHS organisations are now launching a joint appeal, to highlight the importance of using vital NHS services – even during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

People are advised to continue following the government and NHS guidance for when to see a GP, pharmacist or visit A&E.

However, hospitals continue to run critical services including those for a across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.

GP practices also remain open by providing phone and video consultations in the first instance. Some practices also have designated centres where non-Covid-19 patients can be seen and treated as previous, plus in some cases, offering home visits.

Mental health services such as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), also remain open for business in which they are reorganising services to align to digital technologies.

Hospitals, GP surgeries and mental health trusts will have information about which services they are currently running on their respective websites, and you can also follow them on social media for up-to-the-minute changes.

It comes in response to perceived concerns and anxieties amongst patients about the risk of infection if attending hospital sites, even if that visit is recommended by a health practitioner.

If the trend continues, health experts in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw believe this could lead to wider health issues in the region in the long-term.

But the NHS across the region wants to reassure the public that there is capacity in GP and emergency services and that it is safe for people to use them.

The message follows government advice in the daily Coronavirus Briefings which have highlighted the importance of contacting emergency care services for conditions which require urgent investigation.

Professor Des Breen, Medical Director for the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System said: “Partners across the region have extensively prepared to manage the Covid-19 outbreak while also ensuring that they are able to manage emergency care services. If pregnant women have any concerns about noted lack of movements in their baby they should contact their midwife. If experiencing an urgent health issue, we advise people to contact GP through their phone or video consultations, call or go online to NHS 111, or call 999 for ambulance assistance if experiencing a health emergency.

Charities including The British Heart Foundation, Stroke Association and Macmillan Cancer Support are also among those raising awareness of the importance of being seen by a medical practitioner with troubling or concerning symptoms.

Bereavement, drugs and alcohol services and children’s  eating disorder services in local areas are also reaching out to support people concerned about their own or someone else’s wellbeing. Mental health resources such as the NHS ‘Every Mind Matters’ site provides information on managing low mood, anxiety and depression, specifically relating to staying at home. If you have any concerns for your own health or for a family member, please ring your GP or NHS 111.