Don’t put off seeking help for symptoms that could be cancer, warns ICB medical director

A drop in the number of people across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire seeking help from their GP for symptoms, that could be cancer, has prompted a warning that not getting checked could lead to serious consequences.

Dr Ruth Grabham, the ICB’s Medical Director, has issued a stark appeal, for any person with concerns about their health, to not sit on their symptoms and to not hesitate in contacting their GP for further advice and information.

It comes as new data reveals that GP referrals for patients, with suspected cancer, to each of the region’s hospitals during April, May and June plummeted.

Salisbury District Hospital saw the biggest drop, with referrals down 47 per cent in comparison to the first three months of the year.

The Great Western Hospital in Swindon witnessed a 31 per cent reduction in referrals, while the Royal United Hospital saw its numbers fall by 35 per cent.

Dr Grabham said: “Practices across our region have remained open throughout the last few months, with more and more patients getting the care and support they need over the phone or by video call in the first instance.

“Face-to-face appointments have still been taking place too, for issues that do not lend themselves as well to a virtual consultation.

“So, with these points in mind, what my GP colleagues and I want to stress the most is that our services are available, our practices are safe, and we really want to hear from anyone worried about their health.

“Whether it’s unusual bleeding, a new lump or something else that just doesn’t feel right, let us know so that we can look into it and arrange further help. Putting it off could only make whatever the issue is more difficult to treat in the long run.”

Dr Grabham’s call comes on the same day that a new campaign is being launched by Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICB to encourage people to act early when it comes to their health and wellbeing.

The Don’t Wait and Worry campaign, which will be promoted through a series of regular radio adverts, also reinforces the message that the NHS, regardless of coronavirus, is always ready to offer care, help and support to those who need it. GP practices and hospitals, amongst all other NHS services, have taken and continue to take a range of measures to ensure they are safe for people to attend.
Clinical Chair: Dr Andrew Girdher | Chief Executive Officer: Tracey Cox

Additionally, the campaign shines a light on mental health, with one of its key aims being to reassure people that it is perfectly normal to feel isolated, run down and anxious.

Across the local area, many mental health services have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic by moving help and support to a telephone-based model, such as the Breathing Space in Bath and North East Somerset, the Riverside Sanctuary in Salisbury and the Junction in Swindon.

A GP referral is not required to use any of these services, meaning people can call up to receive support at the very first sign of noticing a difference in their everyday wellbeing.

Details of how to contact the services, as well as information on a wide range of health matters, can be found online at