Dr Hilary Jones: GMB presenter left worried as patients avoid GP ‘They’re not a burden’

Gaby Roslin features in NHS lung cancer awareness campaign

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Dr Hilary Jones, 67, has opened up on his worries about patients deciding against going to the GP to discuss their health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. While addressing his support for NHS England and Public Health England’s Help Us, Help You – Lung Cancer campaign, Good Morning Britain’s resident medic insisted that people should not stay away from booking doctor’s appointments.

The campaign launch follows new research that reveals 49 per cent of the public aren’t aware that a cough lasting three weeks or more could be a sign of cancer, while 61 per cent say that they wouldn’t make an appointment with their GP if they had this symptom, which wasn’t COVID-19. 

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Dr Hilary said when quizzed on whether he was worried about patients with possible cancer symptoms avoiding the GP: “Yeah some people don’t want to be a burden, knowing how the NHS is under a lot of pressure.

“Some people feel that they don’t want to go to a clinic where there might be other patients with Covid.

“What I would say is that GPs have taken great lengths and measures to make sure their surgeries safe, so have hospitals, they have Covid secure areas and so have all the cancer hubs, very secure.”

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Dr Hilary went on to insist that people should be aware that they are not causing difficulties for the NHS by sharing their health problems.

He added: “So people should be rest assured that it’s safe, they’re not a burden. 

“We’ve got a lot of capacity that’s been provided through the independent sector in this difficult time, so we’re ready to go. So don’t ignore the symptoms.”

Speaking further about the campaign’s vital message, Dr Hilary said: “I think a lot of people make assumptions about symptoms and health and yes, of course, everyone’s been so focused on the pandemic for the last year that people are completely focused on that.


“But of course the other conditions, sometimes the serious ones, don’t go away – they’re still there, and every year there are 39,300 people diagnosed with lung cancer in England and the symptoms often overlap.

“So a persistent cough for more than three weeks is also a symptom of lung cancer as it is with COVID-19, so it’s important that we tell people that if it’s not COVID-19, then that’s a serious symptom that needs to be urgently investigated. 

“GP surgeries are open for business and there are Covid secure environments where you can go and be assessed and cancer treatment goes on uninterrupted, even during the pandemic. 

“I think there’s a perception at the moment that cancer treatment has all but stopped and that people are missing out. The good news is that between March and December last year, when the pandemic was raging, cancer services were maintained pretty much as normal.”

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He added: “Lung cancer referrals fell a little bit, which means that people weren’t coming forward, but that’s one of the reasons that we need to reiterate that cancer services are up and running and we must not delay those people who need priority treatment for cancer.”

The television personality, who works alongside Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on ITV’s GMB, also detailed more lung cancer symptoms which patients need to be aware of.

He explained: “We’re particularly targeting the over 60s. 89 per cent of lung cancer is diagnosed in the over 60s and it’s relatively rare under 40.

“However, if you’re over 60 and you’ve been a smoker particularly, or you’ve had an occupation that increases your risk, then you just need to be that much more aware.

“And whilst a persistent cough could be sinusitis, or acid reflux from your stomach, or an allergy, it could also be lung cancer, particularly if you’re over 60. 

“If you’ve got any doubts at all, if you’ve got a persistent cough for more than three weeks.

“Also if you’ve got increasing breathlessness, or you’re coughing up blood, if you’re very fatigued, or losing weight for no apparent reason, or getting frequent chest infections for example, it needs to be sorted out.”

Urging people not to delay speaking to their GP, Dr Hilary continued: “You are helping us to help you if you come and see us earlier, rather than later.”

Visit nhs.uk/cancersymptoms for more information.

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