Seriously ill patients should not avoid hospital: A supporting statement by the Medical Technology Group
Medical technology has taken a frontline role in tackling COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak, ensuring capacity and demand in NHS critical care settings is met, and as the health system moves into the next phase of our response it will continue to be crucial.
With initiatives such as #VentilatorChallengeUK, the upscaling of medical technology production – including ventilators – has proved crucial in ensuring that the right care and respiratory support is available for patients with severe symptoms.
The industry has also been collaborating with academic research units and diagnostic firms to aid the development of tests to detect coronavirus.
However, there is another – equally significant role – for medtech amidst the outbreak and as we move in to the next phase of response: its potential to reduce hospitalisations, aid diagnosis of non-communicable diseases, and help individual patients self-monitor their condition while continuing with daily life.
Examples include the development of an at-home safety monitoring test for chemotherapy patients by NeutroCheck, and the piloting of a skin cancer community assessment service by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and Skin Analytics. Development of such technologies will help patients access diagnosis and treatment while social distancing measures are still in place, helping to level out demand when measures are relaxed.
This technology, however, does not negate the importance of patients seeking medical help when necessary. Following a sharp decrease in emergency visits, the Government has called on members of the public experiencing acute illness such as strokes and heart attacks to still present at A&E and access urgent treatment where possible. This is due to the growing concern that patients with severe diseases are avoiding hospitals for fear of contracting the virus and may be putting themselves at greater risk.
The Medical Technology Group supports this call from the Government, and strongly urges patients – for their own health and wellbeing – not to put off seeking medical help when needed. Patients should also heed the advice and guidance that has been issued by various organisations – representing conditions such as diabetes and cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease.
The Medical Technology Group wishes health and safety to all healthcare and emergency services professionals, key workers and patients during this time.
Statements from MTG members
Diabetes UK understands that people may feel anxious about seeking advice or support from the NHS at the moment, but it is vital that if you or a family becomes unwell you seek help.
Some children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed when they become seriously ill with life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). While the UK is under lockdown, we’ve been hearing from clinicians that a disproportionate number of young people are arriving for urgent care, already in DKA.
Given the availability of innovative therapies for cardiac conditions, such as transcatheter valve replacement and repair, Heart Valve Voice has reinforced in a statement that urgent treatment will still be undertaken, and that patients should continue to monitor their symptoms closely and report any deteriorations using the symptom tracker.
The Lindsay Leg Club Foundation remains committed to the provision of holistic lower limb wound care and continues to support patients through its social media, local support hubs and its Foundation website which has a Leg Club directory with contact numbers for clinical staff and volunteers.
The Lindsay Leg Club will endeavour to help members self-monitor and self-manage their condition from home and maintain a well leg regime until such a time as we are able to reopen our Leg Clubs. However, if this is not possible, or if members notice any changes to their wound and general wellbeing that give them cause for concern, then they are urged to seek medical advice and assistance at this time.
Without doubt there will be a new norm in terms of healthcare provision as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and medical technology will be central to its delivery. It is already at is the forefront of lower limb care and the Lindsay Leg Club Foundation is committed to working with the MTG to ensure it remains on the national healthcare agenda.