Doctor dodgers - our collaboration with Dr Alex

Dr Alex George

We were shocked to find that a fifth of Brits haven’t seen their GP in over a year and a third admit they don’t even know the name of their GP.

Visiting your GP is often a necessity

However our research reveals that two thirds of UK adults have chosen to delay or put off resulting in catastrophic consequences. When looking at the impact this had, a quarter of you admitted that it resulted in symptoms becoming much worse or said that your illness lasted much longer than it should have.

Some of you (9%) even had to go onto antibiotics due to your decision to put off seeking medical advice.

The reasons why

When considering why people may be avoiding visiting their GP, we heard the following reasons:

  • you didn’t feel your problem was bad enough to warrant booking an appointment
  • going to see their GP makes you feel anxious or nervous
  • it causes them you feel stressed
  • it makes you feel frustrated
  • you thought you may see someone you know in the waiting room
  • you know someone that works there

What needs to change?

A quarter of you said they gave up because you couldn’t get an appointment that was convenient. Half of people said it would make it easier for them to go to their GP surgery if they could book an appointment on the day. Over a third of you said being able to go at weekends would be a real help and being able to book appointments out of hours would make things easier.

Our advice

"There’s been a lot of focus on encouraging people to only use their GP when it’s absolutely necessary, but what we don’t want people to do is to put off seeking medical advice at all. If you’re unsure whether you need a GP, NHS 111 will be able to advise or you could visit a pharmacy."

"It’s often the case that the sooner you see your GP, the better the outcome is and it also can help to take a huge weight off people’s shoulders. Delaying seeing a health professional only leads to an increase in worry and stress and is something that should always be avoided. If you’re uncomfortable in going to the GPs in person, it may be possible to have your appointment online or over the telephone, depending on your symptoms."

Dr Alex George, A&E Doctor and TV Personality, added:

"Having spent four years working in A&E, I have seen first-hand the impact delaying going to see a GP can have. We often get people coming in whose problems could have been resolved if they’d booked an appointment with their doctor when their symptoms first arose, but it’s often the case that putting it off makes things much worse."

"I can vouch for all GPs when I say that we are only human too – going to see your doctor shouldn’t lead to anxiety or stress, it’s our job to help you when needed. No matter how insignificant you feel your problem is, booking an appointment should always be a priority."

*Research was conducted among 2,000 UK adults with YouGov on behalf of Co-op Health in September 2019

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