Concern has been expressed that many patients, particularly older people, are putting off seeking medical treatment for injuries and fractures that have occurred in the home.
According to Affidea, which operates ExpressCare Clinics nationwide, in some cases that it has seen, patients are waiting up to three or four weeks before seeking medical care, putting them at an increased risk of experiencing an injury-related infection.
Most of these injuries are fractures and ligament damage, primarily caused by falls in the shower or garden-related accidents.
The Affidea clinics are walk-in facilities that treat minor injuries and illnesses that do not require a hospital visit, such as fractures, sprains, minor burns and lacerations requiring stitches.
Three of their clinics - one in Cork and two in Dublin - are fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, and all three have reported a big jump in the number of people who are waiting weeks before seeking medical attention for their injuries.
Last month, Affidea also recorded an increase in appointment cancellations, especially among those over the age of 50. Many of these patients said they are reluctant to attend any kind of medical setting because of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Affidea has also recorded fewer injury cases among children when compared to the same time as last year. The majority of these injuries would previously have been caused by falls on bouncy castles during communion and confirmation season.
"This time last year we were treating a large number of paediatric cases from trampoline and bouncy castles as a result of communion parties. It has started to get a little bit busier with the return of the good weather and we are starting to see more paediatric fractures.
"We are also seeing patients coming into us in the mornings who had been in the ED the previous evening and left due to waiting times," explained Dr Darren Collins, lead doctor at Affidea's clinic in Santry, Dublin.
He noted that COVID-19 restrictions "have made patients reluctant to attend mainstream hospitals for treatment".
"But it is critical that we don't lose sight of the fact that other illnesses and health needs are still present and need timely care and attention," he added.
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