New research suggests some sick Brits are resorting to self-medication because they can’t get a face-to-face appointment with their GP.
According to a survey by Savanta ComRes, more than 25% of adults have tried to get a personal consultation with a GP in their area but have not been able to do so in the last 12 months.
While some delayed seeing a doctor or forgoing it altogether, around 16% of those unable to make an appointment either self-treated or asked someone else who was not medically qualified to do so.
The findings were described as a “national scandal” by the Liberal Democrats who commissioned the study. The party says this is the result of “mismanagement and neglect” of the local health service by the government.
The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that 72% had tried to make an appointment with a GP in their area in the last year. About 43% were successful and 29% were not.
Of those who failed, 32% said they had put off seeing their GP despite the pain, and 31% had simply given up trying to make an appointment.
Meanwhile, 24% said they had bought medicines at a pharmacy or online without seeking medical advice, and 19% had gone to the emergency room.
The survey also found that 11% paid for a private consultation and another 10% traveled a long distance to find a doctor’s office that had available appointments.
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Following the results of the poll, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said the government had repeatedly broken promises to recruit more doctors and called on ministers to bring in another 8,000 GPs.
He said: “It’s a national scandal. Face-to-face GP visits have almost died out in some areas of the country.
“We now have a devastating situation where people are self-medicating and even self-prescribing because they cannot see their local GP.
“The British public is paying its fair share of the NHS, but years of mismanagement and neglect by the government of local health services have left millions unable to see a GP.”
In response, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said there were nearly 2,300 full-time physicians working in general practice in September 2022 compared to September 2019.
“We recognize the pressure GPs are under and are working to increase access for patients,” a spokesperson said.
“GP teams delivered 80,000 more visits each working day this year compared to last year, and we plan to deliver over a million more visits this winter by strengthening GP teams with other specialists.
“The guidelines are clear that GP surgeries must provide face-to-face appointments, alongside remote consultations – and more than two-thirds of appointments in November were face-to-face.”