Significant reduction in the diagnosis of many common physical and mental health conditions in parts of the UK during the coronavirus lockdown, study suggests
Electronic health records of approximately a quarter of a million people in Salford, Greater Manchester, were analysed to identify the impact of Covid-19 on general practice (primary care) by a patient safety research centre between March 1 and May 31.
Researchers found the biggest reductions were for mental health conditions and type 2 diabetes, as there were half the expected number of diagnoses. For malignant cancer, the reduction was 16 per cent for the time period analysed, but for the month of May there was a drop of 44 per cent.
For circulatory system diseases such as stroke, heart failure and coronary heart disease, the study found a reduction in diagnoses of 43 per cent.
The research, published in The Lancet Public Health, was conducted by the National Institute for Health Research Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR GM PSTRC).
The study used 10 years’ worth of data to create statistical models to give predicted levels of new diagnoses for the health conditions identified in general practice to be routine.
Study lead Richard Williams, from the University of Manchester, said: “We were aware that GP practices have been reporting a drop in the number of patients seeking medical help since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Thanks to electronic health records, it is possible to investigate whether this is true across a large urban area like Salford. Importantly, our research has revealed which conditions people are not seeking medical attention for.
“This means that, potentially, there are high numbers of people living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, mental health conditions and circulatory system failure.”