The survey by AIG Life found only one in four (24%) working adults immediately arrange an appointment as soon as they feel ill, while nearly a third (30%) say they hold out for as long as possible even if they are suffering.
Parents are quicker to act if it’s their children who are ill – more than half (54%) go to the doctor straightaway and just 3% hold off for as long as possible.
NHS data shows an average of 842,000 people attend surgery appointments each day with around 52% seeing GPs and the rest seeing other practice staff. Average waiting times for appointments are currently 6.4 days in England with only around two out of five (43%) able to make an appointment on the same day.
AIG’s study found just one in three (33%) of adults can always get an appointment at a time to suit them.
The survey of more than 2,000 employees and self-employed workers found widespread support for GPs – around 78% said they believe family doctors are under immense pressure and 80% worry the NHS is unable to cope with the demands put upon it.
AIG Life has launched online health service, Smart Health, which gives new and existing customers unlimited, 24-hour access to online health services at no extra cost. They can use the Smart Health GP app to make and manage their appointments at a time that suits them.
Debbie Bolton, head of customer operations and chief underwriter at AIG Life, warned that there is a fine line between protecting GPs and leaving conditions untreated in the hope everything will be fine.
“Sometimes early intervention by a GP is the most appropriate and safest thing to do,” she said.
AIG’s research shows nearly two out of three adults (64%) frequently look up their symptoms online before going to the doctor and that more than half (51%) often just want advice or reassurance from their GP.