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Patients choose self-diagnosis over doctors' appointments

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31st October 2013
  • Nearly two thirds (61%) of patients report having to wait for more than two days to obtain a doctor’s appointment
  • Nearly half (44%) of doctors have experienced patients delaying appointments because they self diagnose via the internet and self help books
  • A fifth (21%) of patients admit to turning to self help books whilst nearly a quarter (24%) turn to the internet for self diagnosis

Despite the obvious risks, patients have admitted they would rather seek medical advice from other sources than wait to obtain a GP appointment. New research from The British Health Report, commissioned by Your Legal Friend, found that nearly a quarter (24%) said they have used the internet to self diagnose their medical conditions whilst 21% turned to medical self help books to cure their illnesses. Download The British Health Report.

Doctors have warned of the risks of self diagnosis and highlighted the importance of seeking proper medical attention as over half (55%) stated they had seen their patients delaying visiting them and that this had had a directly negative impact on their health. Three quarters of patients (71%) have also  admitted they have delayed going to the doctor.  Nearly half of doctors (44%) have seen patients delay appointments because they had chosen to diagnose themselves via the internet and medical self help books.

Long delays in securing a doctor’s appointment will not be helping the problem.  Nearly two thirds (61%) of patients report having to wait for more than two days to obtain a doctor’s appointment.  Gaining access to doctors is a major concern for patients which is hardly surprising as one in five (20%) have waited a week or more for an appointmenDr Chris Steele MBE, resident doctor, ITV’s This Morning commented, "Patients must always seek professional medical advice rather than following advice from the internet or in self help books. A practising professional is always the best person to consult. However the NHS needs to be more accessible to everyone and the delays in booking doctor’s appointments will merely encourage the rise and rise of self diagnosis, which in turn will risk the health of thousands across the country. Patient care should always be at the front of all doctors’ minds."

Sara Stanger, Solicitor at Your Legal Friend said, “At a time when nearly half of doctors (44%) believe patient care in the NHS will decline in the next five years, we need to ensure that patients are being properly treated. It is not surprising to see so many people turning to self diagnosis when they are struggling to secure an appointment. With doctors also voicing concerns over patient care we need to ensure that negligence doesn’t arise and that all patients have access to the very best medical support.”