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Most patients feel comfortable visiting their GP despite pandemic

primary care

A majority of patients (78%) would feel comfortable visiting their GP during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an opinion poll commissioned by the Health Foundation.

Over one third (34%) of patients interviewed by Ipsos Mori said they would be ‘very comfortable’, with a further 44% saying they would feel ‘fairly comfortable’.

Of the one fifth (20%) of patients who said they would feel uncomfortable visiting their GP at the present moment, 15% said they would be ‘quite uncomfortable’ and 5% said they would feel ‘very uncomfortable’. 

The most commonly stated reason among people who would be uncomfortable visiting their GP was concern about being exposed to coronavirus (63%), although 9% also worried they may not get an appointment and 8% said they did not want to put extra pressure on the health service.

Patients who had already used GP services during the UK lockdown felt slightly more comfortable doing so, with 84% saying they had felt comfortable during their visit.

People were significantly more worried about visiting hospitals, with nearly half (47%) saying they would feel uncomfortable doing so. However, a vast majority (78%) of those who had visited a hospital for a routine appointment had felt comfortable doing so. A slightly lower proportion (70%) felt comfortable when they visited A&E, although the majority still felt comfortable.

The data comes as Pulse revealed earlier this week that masks will become mandatory in GP practices from next week, with PHE due to release further guidance this week according to an NHS England system letter.

Results in full

If you developed a health issue that you felt needed treatment over the next 3-4 weeks, how comfortable or not would you feel using your local GP/local hospital if necessary?

Very comfortable – 34%

Fairly comfortable – 44%

Quite uncomfortable – 15%

Very uncomfortable – 5%

Don’t know – 2%

You said you would feel very/quite uncomfortable. Why is that?

Concerned about being exposed to Coronavirus – 63%

Extra pressure on the health service – 8%

Condition doesn’t warrant a visit – 3%

Lack of confidence in standard of care – 3%

Don’t want to risk getting ill – 2%

Not sure I’d get an appointment – 9%

They are too busy/too many patients/long wait – 2%

They are rude/unprofessional – 2%

Don’t like doing it by phone/online – 2%

Source: Ipsos Mori interviews with 1,983 UK adults 1-10 May 2020, commissioned by the Health Foundation