Over half or 55 per cent of UK workers who need healthcare have resorted to self-treating medical symptoms due to being unable to access the NHS, according to Health Shield Friendly Society.
Gen Z and Millennial employees report using this the most, at 60 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively. The majority of employees who require healthcare, nearly half, think that their health has worsened as a result of limited access. Among age groups, younger workers, particularly Gen Z workers, are most affected, at 55 per cent.
More than seven in ten, or 72 per cent, of full- and part-time workers in the UK who participated in the poll said they had trouble scheduling a doctor’s appointment when they needed one. Every age group has comparable problems; difficulties are reported by Gen X (73 per cent), Gen Z (72 per cent), Millennials (72 per cent), and Baby Boomers (70 per cent).
Covid-19, labour strikes, and an increase in chronic illnesses have all had a major influence on GP appointment wait times. In comparison to 2019, there are 852 fewer full-time trained GPs. As a result, there is a significant nationwide disparity in GP waiting times.
One in twenty patients waits at least four weeks, while some get appointments in less than 48 hours. According to a Health Shield survey, 64 per cent of employees are concerned about the strains on the NHS right now. Baby Boomers, at 83 per cent, and Millennials, at 67 per cent, are the groups most concerned.
Many employees postpone or neglect regular healthcare payments as a result of the ongoing issue in the cost of living. More than 81 per cent of people have cut back on their expenditures for dentist, physiotherapist, and optometrist visits. Additionally, over 41 per cent of people have cancelled appointments in order to save money, with the consequences being twice as common, 68 per cent vs. 34 per cent.
Health Shield Friendly Society Head of Wellbeing Matt Liggins says: “It’s really worrying that so many UK workers feel the need to put off attending routine medical appointments, that could be important, because they simply can’t afford to pay for them. Alongside this, the challenges many are facing trying to get a GP appointment are equally concerning.
“GP services are obviously overstretched and under pressure but it’s worrying if workers are resorting to self-medicating when they cannot access the support that they need. The combination of these two issues can leave employees feeling unwell, risking long term health complications, and causing worry and stress.
“We encourage employers to be as active as they can in 2024 in helping their employees to stay healthy. Not only will it mean employees receive the treatment they need it will also help to alleviate the stress and worry associated with not being able to access healthcare, which could make any issues or symptoms much worse.
“A supportive approach to employee wellbeing can have huge benefits for employers too, helping with engagement and productivity, whilst reducing absence and turnover. Health Cash Plans are an affordable, flexible solution that can provide the help employees need, often including cashback for routine appointments and accessible services such as Virtual GPs. This can help create a solid foundation for an effective health and wellbeing strategy.”