Over-50s, arguably the biggest users of the NHS, are finding it particularly hard to book a same-day appointments with their GP.
In a poll of more than 10,000 over-50s, half say they find it difficult to book an appointment to see their doctor the same day they fall ill, while more than a quarter say they struggle to book a doctors’ appointment in advance.
The research from Saga Health Insurance shows that while some over-50s got a same day (29 per cent) or next day (19 per cent) appointment the last time they needed medical attention, more than a third said they waited between one and two weeks for an appointment.
However, despite waiting a couple of weeks to see their GP, appointments only lasted between eight and 10 minutes on average.
Difficulties booking appointments and long waiting times for basic proceduresis taking its toll on the over 50s opinion of the National Health Service and four out of 10 people think it has got worse over the last year.
People aged 50 to 59 find it the most difficult to see their doctor, whether they are booking an emergency appointment (61 per cent) or one for a couple of weeks’ time (35 per cent). This age group also found it the most difficult to see their GP last year.
The suggestion is that those in their 50s are the busiest, working long days, occupied with the school run and/or looking after patients and so find it hardest to fit in a suitable time.
The research also suggests that there is a postcode lottery when it comes to seeing your doctor quickly.
For instance, those living in the East Midlands had a lot more difficulty than those living in Wales to get an urgent doctor’s appointment.
However, it is a different story if they want to book an appointment in advance as one in three say these types of appointments are hard to come by.
A Saga spokesman said: “The last thing people want to do when they feel under the weather is battle to see their GP. We need to be encouraging these people to visit their GP rather than put more barriers in the way so that they can get better as soon as possible and carry on with their normal everyday life.