People turn to DIY health treatment amid GP appointment shortage | GPS
Almost one in four people have bought medicine online or from a pharmacy for their illness after failing to see a GP in person, according to a UK survey highlighting the rise of do-it-yourself treatments.
Nearly one in five (19%) went to A&E to seek urgent medical treatment for the same reason, according to the study commissioned by the Liberal Democrats.
One in six (16%) agreed when asked by Savanta ComRes pollsters whether difficulty getting an in-person appointment with a family doctor meant they had “undertaken medical treatment on yourself or asked someone else who is not a healthcare professional to do so”. then”.
The research – among 2,061 UK adults representative of the general population – also found that 11% had paid for care from a private medical service. This is in line with a recent finding from the Office for National Statistics that one in eight Britons have either paid for private treatment themselves or used their medical insurance to access private sector care as a direct result of the growing hardship encountered by patients in accessing the NHS. services.
Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said delays and difficulties getting GP appointments was a national outrage and face-to-face appointments with GPs had become “almost extinct ” in some parts of the country.
He said: “We now have a devastating situation where people have to self-medicate or even self-prescribe medication because they can’t see their local GP.”
He blamed years of neglect of the NHS by successive Tory governments, particularly ministers who broke promises to increase the GP workforce in England.
Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, vice-chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in England, said: ‘While personal care and consultation from other services such as pharmacies and NHS 111 is often the right thing to do for many minor health issues, it is worrying if patients feel compelled to take inappropriate action because they are having trouble making an appointment for a problem that needs the attention of a GP or a member of the firm’s staff.
But he said the Lib Dems’ call for patients to be allowed to see a GP within a week was “an impossible task” unless the decline in the number of GPs was halted.
Dr Margaret Ikpoh, Vice-President of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘We understand the distress and frustrations of patients when they cannot get GP appointments, but we should not blame the hardworking GPs and their teams, who are doing their best under extremely difficult circumstances to meet the healthcare needs of their patients.
Meanwhile, up to 500 people a week could die due to delays in emergency care, the head of Britain’s A&E doctors has said.
Speaking to Times Radio, Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said a bad flu season was compounding systemic problems in the NHS and leading to hundreds of unnecessary deaths.
He said: “We have to be in a situation where we can’t just shrug our shoulders and say, ‘This winter has been terrible, let’s not do anything until next winter.’ We can’t go on like this – it’s dangerous and outrageous.
“What we’re seeing now in terms of those long waits is associated with increased mortality, and we believe between 300 and 500 people are dying each week due to urgent and emergency care delays and issues.”
Responding to the Lib Dems’ inquiry, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said: ‘We recognize the pressures faced by GPs and are working to increase access for patients. The guidelines make it clear that GP practices must offer face-to-face appointments alongside remote consultations – and more than two-thirds of appointments in November were face-to-face.
“In September 2022, there were almost 2,300 more full-time equivalent doctors working in general medicine compared to September 2019. There is also a record number of general practitioner training, and since 2019 we have recruited more 21,000 additional people in general medicine.