DAUK’s Dr Ellen Welch and Dr Katie Sanderson write in the BMJ.
For months now, it has been the norm in primary care to speak with patients calling to discuss their new coughs and fevers, and to be greeted with surprise and often outrage when a covid test and household isolation are suggested. “I know it’s not covid” or “I always get a cough at this time of year” are the commonest protestations, alongside the belief that an intact sense of smell invalidates all the other symptoms. After the well-rehearsed debate is over, what follows is typically an unconvincing agreement to follow the government advice, which inspires zero confidence that this will actually happen.
Meanwhile, on the wards, a similar narrative occurs while checking that the relatives of covid-19 patients are isolating. The response is often simply: “I can’t isolate”, with financial hardship acknowledged as the main influence. While we are sympathetic to this situation, there remains a profound lack of understanding about this disease, despite its omnipresence in our lives. The many patients dying of covid-19 in hospital invariably all ask: “How did this happen to me?”
The general public cannot be criticised for these misperceptions, since the guidance from the government throughout this pandemic has been confusing, ambiguous, and inconsistent, often changing at the last minute. The lack of financial support for those needing to self isolate has left some people unable to follow the guidance for fear of financial hardship or ruin. Instead of following the lead of countries like Australia, who isolated and tested anyone presenting with any upper respiratory symptoms (including rhinorrhoea and pharyngitis ), here in the UK clinicians have been forced to have daily disputes with patients about the nature of their cough, while ignoring patients who present with snotty noses and sore throats as these symptoms somehow aren’t included as covid-19 in the UK.
Read the full article here: https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/02/05/we-urgently-need-to-double-down-on-the-basics-if-we-are-to-find-a-way-out-of-lockdown/