With GP waiting times increasing, is there a solution to a quicker diagnosis?
GP Waiting Times
Waiting times for GP appointments have been reported to be longer than 14 days for more than 40% of patients in England, according to a recent survey by Pulse, the monthly GP news magazine. The situation has been described as a ‘postcode lottery’ with dramatic variations across the country. Reports from the NHS show a clear North/South divide with those in the East and South-East regions facing a much poorer service. Waiting times in these areas have even been documented at 18 weeks between referral and treatment, accompanied by the lowest overall rates of procedures undertaken.
It is not surprising that people are looking at other sources to help with their health concerns. Providing convenience and almost instant results for those facing such long waits is self-diagnosis, often via the internet. In what the BBC are calling ‘cyber-chondria’, researching symptoms online is causing growing health anxiety.
Whilst patients are putting pressure on GPs through unnecessary medical appointments and internet based self-diagnosis, this may not be the case if medical appointments weren’t subject to such long waits. Health anxiety is clearly fuelled by the informative nature of the internet, even though it is known for not showing things in the right proportion and often leads individuals to a worst case scenario.
One report states that private hospitals are experiencing 15-25% year-on-year rises in the number of those without insurance known as ‘self-payers’. However, many are looking away from the long and painstaking waits of the NHS and the large expenses of one-off private appointments and instead considering the support and comfort offered by having private medical insurance.
With the fear of a long wait for diagnosis causing many great stress and anxiety, it’s a relief to have support during this time. Having a private healthcare plan in place that provides access to private GPs and fast diagnosis can be crucial to individuals in need of urgent treatment and offers peace of mind for those with worry or minor ailments. The Optimum private medical insurance policy from National Friendly offers customers immediate access to a network of private GPs across the UK, providing that support in time of need.
 Health Insurance Daily (2017)