Patients should present in primary care earlier, say GPs
People who delay going to their GP face needing stronger treatments and too many rely on the internet for information, experts have warned.
A poll for The Information Standard - an organisation backed by NHS England - found 41% of people have put off visiting their doctor despite worrying symptoms, with more than two-thirds (68%) saying this led to their problem getting worse or not going away.
More than one in three (36%) were told by their GP they should have visited earlier, one in five (20%) needed a stronger course of treatment and 17% were told they had had a lucky escape.
More than half (55%) of those who put off a trip to the doctor thought symptoms would clear up on their own and 39% did not want to waste their GP’s time.
Some 53% of those who put off going to the doctor had also researched their symptoms on the internet, while others tried to self-treat at home.
When delaying, women were more likely than men to turn to the internet for health information (59% compared with 43%).
Ann Robinson, director of public awareness for The Information Standard, which certifies health and care organisations as reliable sources of information, said: “People are delaying their GP visit for various reasons but, regardless of the reason why, our concern is that people are admitting to self-diagnosing and self-treating in the meantime.
“Unreliable health information in these circumstances could then have a detrimental effect on their health.
“If people are looking for health information, they should make sure it’s trustworthy so that they can make a fully informed and safe decision.
“Our advice is simple; look out for The Information Standard quality mark on health websites and leaflets - if you can see the mark then you can feel confident that the information you’re reading is reliable.”
The poll was of 1,500 people.