The average UK worker has been unable to attend a GP appointment because of work three times in the past year
New research by Push Doctor has found that more than half (57%) of British workers have failed to see a GP in the past year because their work commitments did not allow it. The news comes as Jeremy Hunt announced plans to introduce additional features to the new NHS.uk website, which will allow patients to check their symptoms and receive a diagnosis over the phone via a live web chat.
The findings show that many workers access digital healthcare via their smartphone, computer or tablet outside of working hours - when to-do-lists, meetings and conference calls cannot interrupt appointments. Additionally, 23% of those surveyed said they would be happy to use digital healthcare to access appointments before or after work, and 15% are open to attending GP consultations from their place of work, so that they do not even have to leave the premises.
Eren Ozagir, founder and CEO at Push Doctor, said: “The data clearly shows that there is a requirement for healthcare to be made more accessible, for those who struggle to attend appointments within the standard GP surgery opening hours of 9am – 5pm, particularly as some surgeries now only take appointments on a walk-in basis, making it impossible to book an appointment around busy schedules.
Leaving symptoms until they have escalated to an unavoidable level can be harmful, and ultimately can result in more time off work in the long run. These difficulties also mean that more and more patients are likely to only see their GP when they are significantly ill. But there are numerous situations in addition to this, in which it is important to consult your GP – for example, when people are making life changes – such as weight loss, a change in diet, an increase in physical or mental performance.”
For an estimated 444,499 workers in the UK, the problem is so severe that work commitments have prevented them from attending ten or more appointments per year. The workers who felt least able to take time out of work to see a doctor were those working for utility companies (such as water, gas or electricity providers), workers for retailers and people employed by marketing and PR agencies.
All were nearly four times (3.8 times) more likely to put off appointments than the national average.