Visits to hospital emergency departments have halved since COVID-19 restrictions began. Doctors say the reasons are varied but include fear of catching COVID-19 in hospital, lack of transport during lockdown or fears people are not allowed to go to the hospital.
Porirua general practitioner (GP) Dr Sarah Sciascia is urging people to not be afraid to make contact with their GP if they are unwell.
“It’s really important that if you’re unwell whānau, and you’ve got a telephone, waea atu ki ngā tākuta. Ring your doctor and ring your nurse. They’re still there absolutely waiting for you to call.”
She says a doctor will be able to give people advice on what they should or shouldn’t do if they’re feeling unwell.
“If something is really bad happening to you, say you’re having chest pain or having trouble breathing, the ambulance is still available so do call them too.”
If people leave an illness or condition too long it could become much worse and could even lead to death.
“I’ve known of whānau who have had heart attacks at home which hasn’t been picked up because whanau are too scared to contact us. Don’t be scared. Kaua e whakamā, call us.”
Sciascia says GP consults have only reduced by 70 per cent and emergency departments are still open.
"They protect themselves as well as they protect you in this COVID-19. So I just ask you to remove the fear. Put it in the kete, put it in the cupboard down the hallway and be strong and ring us."
Sciascia says Healthline is also available for people to call for health advice and information. The number to call is 0800 611 116.