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GPs behind Google and mum as primary source of health advice

GPs have come in third as a source health advice for mothers with ill children, placing behind Google in second place and the family grandmother, according to a poll by a firm of solicitors.

The Irwin Mitchell study of more than 2,000 mothers with young children found that 58% of mothers didn’t want to bother a doctor unnecessarily, but around 30% said their doctor was too difficult to get hold of.

The law firm said that the growing delays and pressures on the GP workforce, as a result of underfunding and lack of staff, pose a ‘real patient safety concern’ and the poll revealed 16% of children had become more seriously-ill because they delayed seeking medical advice.

In total, one in four mums would see their GP as a first port of call, while 26% would search for symptoms on the internet, and 29% would turn to their own mothers. It also found 38% of mums had sought a second opinion when a doctor’s diagnosis differed from the results they found on the internet.

Lisa Jordan, a specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said: ‘The NHS carries out great work and doctors save lives on a daily basis, but it seems many people are losing confidence without a familiar doctor, a struggle to get an appointment and medical staff who are coping with more people than ever to treat.’

‘There are real patient safety concerns about the resources available to the NHS and it appears to be driving patients to look elsewhere for expert medical advice – which could prove to be very dangerous.’

She added: ‘There have been recent studies looking into opening longer hours or at weekends but GP surgeries need to be given the resources to be able to do this without compromising the quality of treatment.’

An RCGP study in May revealed that four out of five GPs are afraid they will miss a diagnosis because of workload pressure.