A SALISBURY doctor is urging residents not to be afraid to contact their GP during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Helena McKeown says doctors are seeing patients "present much later than before with serious conditions" and there is a worry there could be a delay in diagnosing serious conditions, including cancer.

"My worry is about people being frightened to contact their GP with their conditions. For instance I'm worried about mothers with babies. We are particularly concerned about the under one-year-olds who can deteriorate very fast," she said.

"The really important thing is please don't present late to your GP. Pick up the phone and contact them if you or someone in your household is not well because GPs are there to help you to work out whether you need do anything with the symptoms you have got and they are available at the moment and well organised and you are not bothering them. It is much better than to present late and that is a big worry to GPs."

GPs are able to consult with patients over the phone and online where they can decide whether they need to be seen.

"It has been set up so people can be seen in a safe a way as possible. But what we are experiencing is that some of the patients we are seeing are much more ill because there seems to be a fear of disturbing the doctor or perhaps a fear they might catch something. You won't catch anything over the telephone or a computer consultation, I can promise you," said Dr McKeown.

"The doctors are worried that we are not seeing the ordinary things. If you have got a breast lump we need to talk to you and then decide if we need to see you. We don't want you sitting at home with a breast lump for four weeks or a melanoma , or a nasty changing spot. We are worried about the delay the Covid might cause to things like early cancer diagnosis."

She added: "It is well organised in Salisbury and general practice is not currently overrun. You have got doctors who are there and available to talk to you, I think more so than if you looked at December."

Dr McKeown, who is representative body chair for the British Medical Association, also spoke about the issues being faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. She says one of the issues facing doctors and healthcare workers is surrounding testing. As she explains: "If you are a doctor or someone in your household is suspected of having Covid you have to travel to Swindon, which is obviously quite difficult if you have had a long day. That is tricky but we are hoping there will be a mobile testing centre somewhere just north of Salisbury within a week, which would be much better than Swindon."

National, she says she would like to see a resolution to issues surrounding PPE, adding: "I'd like the PPE sorted out nationally because it is very distressing when you here about doctors doing high risk things and not being protected. You hear about friends and friends relatives dying and you wonder whether that might have been avoidable if they had PPE. That is very distressing. That would be top of my list perhaps.

"Then I think we need an awful lot of testing so we can go back to a situation where we can get out of lockdown and start testing and contact tracing and isolating individuals who actually have Covid or have been in contact with Covid, and the rest of us can try and get on with some sort of normal life. It is a great shame we have lost that ball really and we need to pick it up again as soon as we can that is what we really need."