An independent British healthcare company that provides a UK-wide GP service has reported a 500% surge in calls and access to its services seeking help on mental health issues.
Cheshire-based Akea Life – which provides an award-winning five-star concierge GP and health service – has seen a large increase in requests from its existing client base as well as new enquiries from clients signing up to its GP and healthcare service for families.
Akea Life – which is a CQC registered company – confirmed that around 90% of those calls seeking help on mental health issues were doing so as a result of the pandemic and the compounded effect on the NHS.
The company also reported that it was seeing a very high percentage (around 65%) of those mental health issues coming from younger children and adolescents struggling with the re-integration back into their schools.
Ben Paglia, MD of Akea Life, said: ‘We are absolutely staggered at the amount of calls we are taking specifically on mental health issues relating to the effects of Covid and lockdown restrictions. Rather worrying is the number of cases involving school children that are suffering from a wide range of issues including agoraphobia, anxiety about returning to school, fear, and withdrawal symptoms. Clearly, the pandemic is having a significant impact on the mental well-being of many school children and it’s serious.
‘We have all seen how truly amazing the NHS is and the pressure that the doctors, nurses, and healthcare staff have been under tackling Covid. But it is clear to see that the system is desperately underfunded, under-resourced, and has been at breaking point for many years – Covid has been the last straw.
‘It is no coincidence that both mental health cases and suicide rates are at an all-time high. The physiological and psychological toll of the pandemic has pushed frontline services to breaking point and put many families into crisis.’
Akea Life has seen a huge growth in corporate clients and families joining over the last few months as access to the NHS waiting list for specialist mental health care and therapy can be anything from 6–12 months on average.
The company warned that due to the huge waiting list for NHS referrals and therapy, it could lead to an increase in people self-medicating or being put straight onto anti-depressants and left without the proper support or review for years.
The local GP service across the UK is buckling under the pressure. Doctors and nurses are themselves suffering from stress and anxiety, increased workloads, and the pressures that Covid has brought. Patient consultation has been reduced to a box-ticking exercise with around eight minutes per patient. GPs cannot properly assess a person’s underlying health issues in this time or look at providing any other form of preventative health interventions.
Ben Paglia added: ‘Traditionally, private healthcare was seen as the preserve of the wealthy; now it is seen as an essential service that many of our clients are taking out as a ‘top-up’ to their existing NHS healthcare services and their local GP. Effectively, we are providing another access point that can speed up that process of accessing specialist healthcare and treatment.
‘We provide very affordable healthcare for families, which means they can get a same-day private patient consultation and GP visit to their home or office and immediate referral and treatment for £30 per month. This puts the ownership and control of healthcare and well-being firmly back in the hands of the public. Our clients don’t have to wait days and weeks for an appointment; they get same-day consultations and referrals for immediate treatment.
‘We are seeing a sea change and a dynamic shift in healthcare provision, in the same way that dentistry went through exactly the same shift from NHS dental services to the private sector opening up private practices.
‘For someone who is suffering from mental health issues, they simply cannot wait six months for a referral to therapy and counselling. The same for children who are suffering from mental health issues. Left unchecked and without specialist treatment, a person’s mental health can deteriorate and become a ticking time bomb leading to many more complex issues.’
This is echoed by chartered clinical psychologist, Peter Dragan: ‘Some psychologists have predicted a post-Covid mental health pandemic, particularly due to many people largely not being able to access support for a prolonged period or enduring levels of stress and trauma that are either still ongoing or only very recently beginning to change. Particularly, this can come with traumatic bereavement, chronic health problems such as long-Covid, job losses, and significant life changes.
‘Other psychologists have disagreed with this prediction. But what we do know, with some confidence, is that there are a number of groups who have been significantly negatively impacted by the pandemic, including those who continue to experience long-term health consequences from the virus, those who experienced bereavement, people who were already relatively socially isolated, those who have experienced job or financial losses, those experiencing housing insecurity, those working in a front-line service, and people who lost important coping mechanisms and/or experience reduced access to health services during a time of illness.’
Akea Life provides quick, convenient access to quality healthcare for families and businesses. Patients can get the medical advice they need, when and where they need it. The company provides access to a network of 100 GPs, seven days a week, as well as healthcare staff, counsellors, therapists, and clinicians. The company also has its own at-home pharmacy supplier.
The service provides quick and efficient access to healthcare:
- The patient calls Akea Life.
- A doctor is then rostered to speak to the patient and assess symptoms.
- If the symptoms require, a doctor can be sent to the patient’s home, office, or location the same day.
- Diagnosis and immediate referral follow.
Ultimately, this means a person doesn’t have to visit their local GP surgery, have time off work, or wait to book an appointment for days or weeks in advance.
For more information on Akea Life, please visit their website.
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