MORE THAN HALF OF BRITISH WORKERS HAVE FAILED TO SEE A GP BECAUSE WORK COMMITMENTS PREVENTED IT
New research by digital GP service, Push Doctor, published in the Digital Healthcare Review, has revealed that 57% have been unable to book or attend a GP consultation on at least one occasion in the past year, due to work.
The data from the survey of 1,014 British adults in employment shows that the average worker has done so as many as three times in the past year.
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.
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.
“Services like ours, where consultations can be attended from 7am until 10pm, can help those who face this problem and risk their health as a result. Leaving symptoms until they have escalated to an unignorable 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.
People working in trades (e.g. plumbers or builders) or those working in public transport (e.g. bus and train drivers) also found it hard to make time for medical appointments (3.4 and 3.3 times more likely).
Push Doctor is the UK’s largest digital doctor service connecting patients to a network of over 7,000 UK General Practitioners, via secure video consultations, within six minutes wherever they are, on any device.