Over 30% of adults in Ireland claim that the COVID-19 lockdown had a negative impact on their health, a new survey has found.
According to the findings, 32% believe that restrictions that came about as a result of the lockdown negatively impacted their health. This rose to 39% among those with a medical condition.
Some 28% of people aged 18-24 had concerns about their mental health.
The survey also found that 43% of those surveyed had a medical appointment cancelled during the lockdown. One-quarter of these cancellations were initiated by a healthcare professional or hospital.
Some 51% of adults were worried about visiting a GP during the lockdown, while 49% were worried about visiting a hospital. The majority of those worried about visiting their GP or hospital between April and July were concerned that they might be the subject of a missed diagnosis or that they might need medical treatment.
Some 12% of adults did not seek treatment during the lockdown despite feeling unwell.
As expected, the number of people being screened for illnesses such as breast or cervical cancer plummeted during the time of the survey as all national screening was suspended as a result of the pandemic. Screening for things like high blood pressure and high cholesterol was also reduced.
According to Rachel Morrogh, the Irish Cancer Society's director of advocacy, cancer patients need to be diagnosed and treated "at the earliest opportunity", to ensure good outcomes.
"This research supports data from the HSE that shows fewer people accessed diagnostic services during the heightened phases of the pandemic. Thankfully, the number of people being referred to cancer rapid access clinics is increasing, but our message remains the same. When it comes to cancer, early detection is key and can be the difference between life or death in some cases," she said.
She urged people to contact their GP immediately if they notice any potential cancer symptoms, such as a lump, bleeding, weight loss or fatigue.
"There are still people out there who are suffering with symptoms in silence and it's vital that they seek help and call their GP today," Ms Morrogh added.
According to Chris Macey, head of advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation, these findings shed light on the impact of the pandemic on people's health and wellbeing.
"With check-ups and appointments being cancelled and people reluctant to seek medical attention during lockdown, we will likely be seeing the long-term impact of this over time.
"At the Irish Heart Foundation, we are urging Government not to redeploy vital frontline staff from cardiac and stroke services to meet new surges of the pandemic and we are urging the public to seek immediate medical care if they experience heart issues or symptoms of stroke. Any delay in seeking urgent medical care could have fatal consequences," Mr Macey said.
The survey was carried out on behalf of Pfizer in June and July of this year. It involved 1,050 adults nationwide.
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