PEOPLE in Ludlow are putting their lives at risk by failing to see the doctor when they have cancer symptoms.

Dr Caron Morton, a partner at the Station Drive Surgery, said that she had referred patients who should have come earlier with ‘reg flag.’ symptoms.

She has urged people not to stay away when they have worries because early diagnosis and treatment can be the difference between life and death.

“I understand why people are doing it,” said Dr Morton.

“In many cases they do not want to be a burden to the system but they must come because important as it is, Covid-19 is not the only health issue.

“We are referring people under the two week guidance and the system is able to cope with them.

“I cannot stress how vital it is for people to get an early appointment when they have symptoms that they think might be cancer or some other serious condition.

“Unfortunately, I have seen people who it would have been better to have seen earlier.”

She said that systems are in place at GP surgeries and there was no need for people not to seek an appointment for fear that they might be more at risk of getting coronavirus.

She said that there are a number of ‘red flag’ cancer symptoms that should bring people to the GP.

These include coughing up blood, a hoarse voice, blood in the motions and unexpected weight loss. Whilst they may not be caused by cancer it is vital to get them checked out as soon as possible.

Dr Morton said that her surgery was now operating normally in the same way as before the coronavirus and that people are being seen face to face by the doctors.

But Dr Morton added that it is not only cancer symptoms that people should be looking out for and that need urgent attention.

Other things like signs of a stroke such as loss of movement and slurred speech also need early attention as do chest pains.

Dr Morton also had a message for people with children who should make sure that potential serious illness are checked out.

She said that potentially life threatening conditions like meningitis are at risk of being missed.

There is a serious risk that things are being missed or dismissed as being Covid-19.

Dr Morton said that the impact of the virus is not just about the disease itself but also the other knock on effects like other serious conditons not being treated and the toll that is being taken on mental health.

“Covid-19 is a very serious illness for some people and must not be taken lightly but the virus has tended to dominate the news and this has consequences,” added Dr Morton.

She said that Ludlow has coped well but that respiratory viruses are more easily spread in the autumn and winter so there is likely to be a significant increase in cases in the weeks and months ahead.

She said that part of the increase in the number of cases is to do with more testing but this did not fully account for the rise.

“Nationally it is clear that we are seeing more people being hospitalised,” added Dr Morton.

The GP said that her surgery had put in place measures to cope with an increase in demand from patients.

This has included putting in place measures to make sure that there are staff available to fill in when people are off sick or when doctors, nurses and other NHS staff are self-isolating.

“We know what we are facing and have proved that we can cope,” she added.

“It is important to see this as a long haul and to pace ourselves.”

Dr Morton said that there is still a lot that is not known about Covid-19 including to what extent, if at all, people who have had the disease get immunity.

But what is known is that the risk increases markedly with age and that Ludlow has a population that is considerably older than the national average.

Therefore, there will be a higher proportion that will need to shield and these people should have been informed.