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A third of patients hold off on making GP appointments to try and ease pressures

One in four patients immediately arrange a GP appointment when they feel ill, while 30% hold out for as long as possible before arranging one – even if they are suffering – according to new research.

The study, by AIG Life, looked at 2,008 working adults between 18 and 65-years-old. It found that 78% of patients worry that GPs are under a lot of pressure and 80% are concerned that the NHS is unable to cope with demand. 

However, it also found that parents were quicker to act if their child was ill, with 54% going to the GP straight away, compared with 3% holding off for as long as possible.

It follows the news that half of patients find it hard to get an appointment with a GP, according to a survey of attitudes towards emergency care.

The new research also found that 64% of adults frequently looked up their symptoms online before going to the doctor, and over half (51%) often just wanted advice or reassurance from their GP.

Head of customer operations at AIG Life, Debbie Bolton, said: ‘People understand the pressure that GPs are under and often try not to bother their GP with what they believe are minor ailments. This delay in seeing their doctor can help ease the burden on GPs who already struggle to cope with demand for their services.

‘However, there is a fine line between protecting their GPs and leaving conditions untreated in the hope everything will be fine. Sometimes early intervention by a GP is the most appropriate and safe thing to do.’

Earlier this month, the RCGP called for longer appointment times to ensure proper mental health care.