GP from Somerset urges patients to come forward after cancer referral rates drop by 50% at his surgery

Dr Robert Weaver says cancer referral rates have dropped by 50% at his practice. Credit: ITV West Country
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A GP from Somerset is urging patients to make appointments after cancer referral rates at his surgery have dropped by 50% during the coronavirus pandemic.

He fears patients with potential symptoms are not calling their doctors and, in some cases, could be putting their lives at risk. 

Dr Robert Weaver works at The Grove House Surgery in Shepton Mallet. 

He told ITV News, "During lockdown, people are on their own without the relatives around them to prompt them to go to see their doctor or there are other worries - like childcare or concerns about their job - and they have put those concerns further down their list." 

Dr Weaver works with four other surgeries across the Mendips, all of which are seeing a similar decrease. They believe it is because less people are getting in touch as a result of the pandemic.

Since the start of lockdown, around 90% of doctor appointments are carried out over the phone or online.

Heidi Loughlin from Portishead has incurable breast cancer and is encouraging people to see a doctor if they have any symptoms.

It took her nine months to get a cancer diagnosis and she believes if she had been diagnosed sooner, her cancer may not be incurable.

She told ITV News, "If you have that thought something needs to be checked, get it checked. Chances are, it's probably nothing to worry about.

"But that niggling thought is enough to go and get it checked. Do you want to keep having that voice? Just go and get it checked." 

Nobody wants to hear they have cancer, but believe me, I would much rather have been told I had Stage 2 or 3 cancer than be told I had Stage 4 cancer.

Heidi Loughlin

Both Heidi and Dr Weaver want to see more people contacting their GP if they have any symptoms.