According to Health Shield Friendly Society, 55 per cent of UK workers resort to self-treating medical symptoms due to limited NHS access.
Gen Z and Millennial employees lead in this, at 60 and 58 per cent, respectively. Nearly half of all employees believe their health deteriorated due to restricted access, with Gen Z workers most affected at 55 per cent.
A poll involving full- and part-time UK workers found that 72 per cent faced challenges scheduling doctor’s appointments. Gen X, Gen Z, Millennials, and Baby Boomers all reported similar difficulties, ranging from 70 to 73 per cent.
Factors such as Covid-19, labor strikes, and increased chronic illnesses have significantly impacted GP appointment wait times, with 852 fewer full-time GPs compared to 2019. While some secure appointments within 48 hours, one in twenty patients waits at least four weeks. Concerns about NHS strains are widespread, with 64 per cent of employees expressing worry, particularly Baby Boomers (83 per cent) and Millennials (67 per cent).
The ongoing cost of living crisis leads many to postpone or cancel healthcare payments. Over 81 per cent reduce spending on dental, physiotherapy, and optometry visits, while more than 41 per cent cancel appointments to save money, resulting in higher consequences, 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.”