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An independent survey commissioned by leading national healthcare provider HealthSure has revealed an alarming new health ‘waiting’ list.

Far longer than the one that regularly makes press headlines, this waiting list is one of our own making and continues to increase despite constant complaints about healthcare provision on the NHS.

The survey reveals that there could be millions of people with medical problems across the UK who ought to see a doctor, dentist or optician – but don’t, largely because they are concerned about cost and what might be wrong with them.

A far cry from being a nation of hypochondriacs, one in five has ignored a health problem in the hope that it will go away. The bad news is, for almost 75 per cent these problems don’t disappear as hoped.

Right across the UK, people are postponing vital health checks. On average, they’re stalling for 10 months before visiting the doctor, 12 months before seeing an optician and for 18 months before a check up with the dentist.

20 per cent of those questioned had delayed a trip to the optician despite being aware they needed an eye check. Dentists get the much the same treatment. 16 per cent shun a routine visit to the dreaded dentists chair.

It’s a worrying fact that one of the crucial reasons for postponing vital health checks is concern about how much the resulting treatment might end up costing. This is particularly evident when it comes to opticians and dentists.

44 per cent of people avoid eye tests because they are worried about the steep cost of new glasses or contact lenses and 29 per cent put off a trip to the dentist for cost conscious reasons.

Consumer expert and survey author, Jan Walsh, commented: “The political parties have made much out of the issue of choice recently but it seems the general public is actively choosing to ignore its health problems.

“Britons must be persuaded to take better care of their health and seek treatment earlier but this will only be possible if their worries about cost are alleviated. People are only delaying the inevitable and a few preventative steps now will keep them healthy long into the future.”

This health report was commissioned to coincide with the launch of a new healthcare policy from HealthSure. From £2.30 per week, it can help alleviate the financial worries of budgeting for healthcare and provides cash towards a wide range of everyday essential treatments including dental, optical, physiotherapy, health screening and complementary therapies.

For further information freephone 0800 085 6636 or visit www.healthsure.org.uk.

The Health Survey: The Key Facts

Locality has a significant effect on our willingness to grin and bear it:

GP
- 1 in 5 people have ignored a health problem hoping that it would go away
- For 75% of these people the problem didn’t disappear as hoped
- Those in the South East are most likely to ignore health issues with Scots and those in the West Midlands fellow silent sufferers
- People in Wales are least likely to ignore problems going straight to the doctor in the event of illness and pain
- A concern that we might be wasting the doctor’s time (33%) and a general lack of free time (33%) are the main reasons that we put off visiting the doctor. Almost one in five who do stall, do so because of what might be wrong with them
- When we do put off a visit to the doctor, we delay for a national average of more than 10 months
- Those in the North East put off going to the doctors for by far the longest at 24 months
Optician
- When it comes to our eyesight we have an even more neglectful approach than we do to our general health with more people delaying opticians visits than doctors visits
- 1 in 5 people have put off visiting the optician despite being aware that they needed an eyesight check. Of these, 3% delayed even when they couldn’t see properly and continued to squint and bump into things before sorting out an appointment
- People in the East Midlands and the sensible Welsh are least likely to delay visits to the optician while people in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber have the most neglectful approach
- A lack of time (45%) and concern about the steep cost of new glasses or contact lenses (44%) are the main reasons for delaying a visit to the optician
- Cost is a big deterrent, especially for people in the North East and West Midlands
- When we do delay a visit to the optician, we delay for well over a year

Dentist
- 16% of people have put off visiting the dentist despite knowing they needed a check up, 2% have continued to postpone even when suffering with toothache
- Fear of the dentist is the most common reason for avoiding a check up (43%) but concern over the cost of treatment comes a close second (29%)
- The Welsh are the worst for delaying visits along with those in the South East who are also dental procrastinators and hold the worst record for putting off check ups even when suffering with toothache
- When we do put off visiting the dentist, we stall and stall, delaying for an average of a year and a half

500 people aged between 30 and 70 years old from England, Scotland and Wales were interviewed in this survey.

In lengthy telephone interviews they were asked about their response to general health problems – whether they take responsibility for their own health, whether they seek help when they have a health problem and, if not, what’s deterring them?


ENDS

For further information, photography or case study information please contact Victoria Moore or Abigail Moore at Mere Communication Ltd.
Tel: 0161 929 8700 Fax: 0161 929 8300 Mobile: 07966 156618
E-mail: victoria@mere.co.uk


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