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Thatcham GP warns of growing mental health crisis due to coronavirus

Doctor advises: "If you are struggling, please reach out"

Sarah Bosley

sarah.bosley@newburynews.co.uk

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Thatcham GP warns of growing mental health crisis due to coronavirus

“IT will be catastrophic.”

That is the warning from a Thatcham doctor as she urges everyone to do their part to help each other get through the coronavirus pandemic and prevent another lockdown.

Dr Elizabeth Mottram also said the letter from the Government this week, urging all GPs to make sure patients know they can be seen face to face, had felt like a personal attack.

“We have been working throughout,” said the Thatcham Medical Practice GP.

“We have been there holding the hands of people dying in care homes.

“We have been seeing people.

“I am sure it wasn’t aimed at everyone, but it felt very personal.”

She hit out at the lack of coronavirus testing available, which she said is desperately needed to avoid a second lockdown this winter (see page 5).

“What we need to do is make the general public aware that this has got serious again,” she said.

“If we don’t clamp down now we will have another lockdown.

“The longer we can delay that, the better.

“There is a mental health crisis going on and when the furlough scheme and other help ends, it will be catastrophic.”

She said two things were now desperately needed – the Government to catch up and provide the testing capability necessary; and people to have an element of social responsibility and isolate themselves and their children if they shows symptoms.

“We are starting to see people with winter colds now and so what we need is a really robust testing system,” she said.

“The [testing] system is not working and we have got people who are desperate. They cannot get a test.

“The Government has had a lot of warning that this was going to happen.”

Despite the challenges of the past six months, Dr Mottram said she believes the changes implemented in her surgery during lockdown have had a positive effect.

“People are liking the way we are working now,” she said. “It suits some people to have video or telephone appointments.

“We are reviewing our appointment systems every two weeks and being very flexible depending on demand, but it is all very unchartered waters.”

She also admitted that it was currently an “absolute minefield” for schools trying to deal with children with colds, but said that erring on the side of caution was necessary.

“I think the advice from schools has to be right,” she said.

“Children need to be off school if they have the symptoms and that is very difficult.

“We know that 99 per cent of times it is not going to be Covid, but the one person who is positive could spread it to everyone else and some pupils may have high-risk relatives and the consequences then could be fatal.”

Dr Mottram, who had just spent her morning talking to someone who had reached breaking point, said she also fears that many people have struggled alone for too long.

“If you are struggling, please reach out to friends and neighbours and just reconnect,” she urged.

“Everyone please just listen to your social conscience; isolate if you are unwell.

“Wear a face covering and wash your hands properly. This can become the new normal.

“Don’t forget we are all humans. If you are struggling reach out. Call your GP, we are open and we can see you in whatever way we need to.”

She said she believed it was a real time for community now, to help everyone get through whatever is in store for us all next.

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