The Don't Wait;Act Campaign 2021

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Press Release - BIVDA launches Don’t Wait;Act Testing Campaign

 

BIVDA, the trade association for British in-vitro diagnostic companies, has launched its new Don’t Wait;Act campaign to re-start testing for non-COVID health issues today (1st April). 

 

Routine care and health screening for diseases such as cancers, heart disease and diabetes have either experienced long pauses or drops in take-ups from members of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, thousands of people could be living with potentially life-threatening undiagnosed diseases.

 

 

The campaign seeks to encourage the public to attend test appointments without hesitating over COVID-related safety concerns at healthcare settings and to act swiftly on any worrying signs of symptoms of ill health. Many people who have long term conditions and need tests to monitor their disease may also have been missing blood tests and we hope this campaign will remind them of their importance. 

 

Some BIVDA member companies saw a 70% drop in routine demand for their diagnostic products during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020. Every cancelled order meant that there were patients not being given a vital test that could uncover an undiagnosed condition.

 

The campaign will be social media-focussed, and any organisations who would like to join with BIVDA are very welcome sharing visual and written content around the issue of restarting diagnostic appointments.

 

BIVDA has worked with its membership to compile pathology testing rate data that demonstrate the fall in testing areas. Significant decreases have been seen in clinical areas such as anaemia (down 29%) HbA1c tests for people with diabetes (down 14%) and PSA prostate cancer (down 17%), among others.

 

BIVDA’s CEO, Doris-Ann Williams, said: “The COVID pandemic has raised awareness of the importance of testing among the public higher than ever before, but people don’t always realise the significance of the information from tests on their routine blood samples – this information is critical to help doctors decide on treatment as well as diagnosis.”

 

“We completely understand people’s fear of being infected with Coronavirus and also not wishing to increase the burden on the NHS however they can be reassured by all the steps which have been made in healthcare settings to keep them safe. Ignoring new symptoms can mean that more extensive treatment is required which is a bigger burden to the NHS as well as potentially devastating to the individual and their family. So please Don’t Wait;Act”.

 

A dedicated webpage has been set up where the public can view campaign content, this can be found at www.dontwaitact.co.uk

 

 

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For further information regarding the campaign or BIVDA activities surrounding the NHS restart, please contact the BIVDA External Affairs Team Michael or Jon

 

BIVDA is the national industry association for the manufacturers and distributors of IVD products in the UK and we currently represent more than 95% of the industry and over a hundred organisations ranging from British start-up companies to UK subsidiaries of multinational corporations. BIVDA members currently employ over 8,500 people in the UK, with a total industry turnover of approximately £820 million.

Campaign Blog Piece - Why Your Diagnostic Tests can be Vital

 

 

A blood test can mean the difference between life and death. Hard-hitting as it sounds, diagnostic tests provide results that can change an individual’s life and allow health professionals to diagnose and then treat their conditions.

 

Diagnostic tests are a key component in virtually every health intervention that takes place. The results of these tests provide essential and invaluable information throughout the healthcare process, with tests being used for screening, diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of patients. They are also used to rule out a potential diagnosis as many conditions have similar physical symptoms. Having a test early can also mean that a life threatening illness is caught in time for the individual to be treated and cured, essential in conditions like cancer and heart disease.  

 

Diagnostics tests can be considered as part of the clinical jigsaw which helps a doctor to identify a problem, along with other jigsaw pieces such as blood pressure, weight loss or gain, appetite, temperature etc. Sometimes these are one-off puzzles to solve, other times they form part of an ongoing process. For instance people with diabetes routinely monitor the level of sugar in their blood and this gives them instant information to use to make decisions on what to eat or whether they need medication such as an insulin injection. But every six months they should also have a test called glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c, this gives their diabetes specialist a longer term picture about well their blood sugar level have been maintained since their last test and can be used to help make changes to daily management and prevent the long term consequences of unmanaged diabetes.

It is also important that people on long term medication such as statins or digoxin have regular blood tests to make sure their organ functions is not being impaired by the drug that is intended to keep them well.

 

Patient care is obviously the main priority, but when used appropriately, information from diagnostics tests also improves the quality of healthcare delivery whilst at the same time improving efficiency within the NHS. Reduced hospital stays, avoidance of unnecessary or incorrect treatment and improved management of patient health all reduce costs. So getting tests done actually reduces the burden on the NHS in many cases.

 

If you would like to read more about any specific test or which diseases require which tests then a valuable source of information is www.labtestsonline.org.uk

“Don’t Wait;Act” on early diagnosis - An Article by Doris-Ann Williams

 

In late April 2020, as the Covid-19 infection rate started to decline, the NHS gave a rallying cry to those hesitant to access medical care, emphasising that the health system was very much open for business. However, more than a year on and with waiting lists reported to be at record highs, many patients are still waiting on routine care and testing. The statistics point to a big drop in appointments and highlight that between April and July 2021 there were around 5-10 million fewer GP appointments each month, compared to the same period in 2019.

 

Not only were there fewer GP appointments, but many BIVDA members saw up to a 70 per cent drop in routine demand for their diagnostic products during the early stages of the pandemic. Amongst others, there has been a significant decrease in clinical areas such as anaemia, down 29 per cent, HbA1c tests for people with diabetes down 14 per cent, and PSA for prostate cancer down 17 per cent. Without these routine checks and tests, thousands of people could be living with potentially life-threatening undiagnosed diseases.


The diagnostic blackhole  

Clearly there were good reasons for not attending routine appointments in the early days of lockdown. However, many of those with a long-term chronic disease missed out on valuable tests to manage their condition. Patients on certain medications also missed opportunities to check that their treatments were not affecting their overall wellbeing. Statins, for example, are a fantastic therapeutic tool but need careful monitoring to ensure they are not affecting the liver.

 

People with new symptoms, who might have already been concerned about their health, have been reluctant to come forward for two reasons. Firstly, they’ve been worried about the risk of infection due to coronavirus. Secondly, constant media reports about the strain on the NHS mean people continue to be hesitant to get tests done, lest they become part of the problem.


The importance of early diagnosis  

So much of our healthcare is underpinned by the information from diagnostic tests. Almost everyone is familiar with the process of visiting a GP for a blood test, often to rule out a possible diagnosis, as much as to confirm the cause of your health problem. The GP can only tell so much from asking questions, taking your temperature or checking blood pressure. In fact, it’s generally accepted that about 70 per cent of the information used to make clinical decisions for a patient’s treatment comes from tests. Yet, during the pandemic, most people have either not seen a doctor, or have only had a remote consultation. Many have not had any testing done at all. This is worrying, and a shift is required to put these life-saving tests higher up the priority list for patients and healthcare providers alike.

 

Now is the time for the public to put previous fears to one side and seek advice, catch up on routine appointments and make sure their health hasn’t been indirectly impacted by the pandemic. Over the last year, the NHS has learned a lot about how to manage the risks from Covid-19, both in primary care settings and in hospitals. The right precautions are in place to make sure visiting your GP or the hospital is safe. Ignoring routine monitoring, even if you feel well, can cause significant problems for your health in the future. In the same way, new symptoms need investigating so that they can be treated – why suffer unnecessarily? Life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and cancer need to be found early to allow for the best chance of successful treatment.


Save money and lives 

Those worried about being a burden on the NHS need not worry. Tackling diseases early actually reduces the long-term strain on our health service, as treatments are much more effective and cheaper than in later stage illness.

It’s now more important than ever to go out and get these routine health screenings done. With every passing day, patients are potentially going undiagnosed, creating longer term health impacts for themselves and putting strain on the NHS further down the line. That is why we are calling for people to go out and get their tests as part of our campaign Don’t Wait; Act”. It’s safe, it’s sensible and it’s time to get the nation’s health back on track, minimising the long-term effects of the pandemic on our health service and the health of ourselves, family and friends.

 

Please find the full article on the Primary Care Journal site here.