Accessing health care is still difficult for many
Many participants disclosed that they have had difficulties when trying to access primary and secondary health care and that this was something which continued to affect their physical health. Attending medical appointments was seen as part of 'getting back to normal', however this was something which was still causing stress for many participants.
Difficulties accessing health care
Many participants were still having difficulties accessing GPs and specialist appointments. In particular, a lack of face-to-face GP appointments as a result of the pandemic was causing increased anxiety as participants feared their underlying health condition may worsen or that this may have longer term impacts on their health:
Having less access to health care has been difficult during the pandemic. Being able to be seen by a GP has been a lottery. I hope in the future, medical care gets more normal. (Participant 6)
In addition to the stresses of being at highest risk of COVID-19, some participants said that the difficulty in accessing medical care was contributing to the feeling of isolation:
I've felt completely alone with my illness. I've not had enough support to manage my kidney condition and I've had to try to do that alone. (Participant 9)
Some don't feel safe attending health care settings
Additionally, in some primary care settings, some participants were concerned about catching COVID-19 while they were in healthcare settings. In some cases, this had caused anxiety when people have needed emergency health care:
I had to go to A&E and there was no social distancing. There was no room and people were sitting on the floor. I think people at high risk should be more protected in these situations, such as a separate area for those at high risk. It was very upsetting. (Participant 9)
For participant 9, the level of mitigations in healthcare settings did not make them feel safe. They wanted to see more diligence with physical distancing, the use of PPE and limiting the number of healthcare professions an individual has to interact with.
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