Town patients buck trend to avoid GPs

This Is Wiltshire: Dr Peter Swinyard, from Phoenix doctors surgery, Toothill Dr Peter Swinyard, from Phoenix doctors surgery, Toothill

THE number of patients seeking appointments to see their GP is at a high, despite fears people are embarrassed to see their doctors.

Researchers, who surveyed nearly 20,000 adults in six high-income countries, said they found embarrassment often stopped Britons visiting the doctor.

The researchers from King’s College London and University College London, with help from Cancer Research UK and Ipsos Mori, found one in six of the men and women aged 50 and over surveyed in the UK were embarrassed about sharing their symptoms with a doctor.

Swindon doctor Peter Swinyard, the senior partner at Phoenix Surgery in Toothill, said he had seen an increase in patients coming to the surgery for the time of year.

He blamed the internet, which many people search for advice and information, for blowing things out of proportion.

He said: “It is a difficult situation, the pressure on general practice is severe everywhere and the number of people seeking appointments to see their doctor in Swindon is at a higher level than usual for this time of year.

“Having said that, it is very hard for our patients to sort out what is trivial and what is important – and I don’t think Dr Google is much help, as he tends to catastrophise.

“I don’t mind at all when people bring their concerns to me – ‘just a bit of a cough, doc’ is how lung cancers may first present and ‘a bit more bloated than usual’ could be something more than irritable bowel.

“Of course, how ever hard you try with patients, you will occasionally miss the first presentation of the first tiny symptoms of a disease.

“But the strength of the list-based general practice system in which people have their own doctor who knows them over a period of time is that we are better at spotting things which are out of pattern and therefore more likely to be significant in context than in isolation.”

Experts, including lead researcher Dr Lindsay Forbes, said the UK's stiff upper lip culture may explain why it lags behind other countries when it comes to beating cancer.

“UK people really stood out in our study,” she said. “As a nation we are much more likely to say we are embarrassed about going to the doctor or we are worried that we will take up a doctor’s time.

“We don’t know why British people feel like that. It may be that we are more stoic and have a war-time mentality.

“We know that older people in particular can get a symptom and then wait for weeks or months before going to see their doctor.”

Comments (2)

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8:45am Fri 1 Feb 13

StillPav says...

The reason people don’t go to their GP isn’t because of embarrassment or “stiff upper lip” it’s because it is so **** inconvenient. GP surgeries are open 9-5, ironically the times that most people are at work and they seem to be the only businesses in Britain that still close for lunch.

If you try and make an appointment they will only take advance bookings for the first one or two slots each day, otherwise you have to call on the day to get an appointment. This is no use to people who have to give their employer 24-hours notice to have some time off.

Then, if you are persistent/lucky enough to actually get an appointment, the surgery will undoubtedly be running at least half an hour behind schedule meaning you have to take even longer out of your working day to see a GP.

Ironically, if I needed to take a pet to see the vet, they are open from 7am until 8pm and on a Saturday and Sunday (a dozen GPs have just fainted).
The reason people don’t go to their GP isn’t because of embarrassment or “stiff upper lip” it’s because it is so **** inconvenient. GP surgeries are open 9-5, ironically the times that most people are at work and they seem to be the only businesses in Britain that still close for lunch. If you try and make an appointment they will only take advance bookings for the first one or two slots each day, otherwise you have to call on the day to get an appointment. This is no use to people who have to give their employer 24-hours notice to have some time off. Then, if you are persistent/lucky enough to actually get an appointment, the surgery will undoubtedly be running at least half an hour behind schedule meaning you have to take even longer out of your working day to see a GP. Ironically, if I needed to take a pet to see the vet, they are open from 7am until 8pm and on a Saturday and Sunday (a dozen GPs have just fainted). StillPav

11:06am Fri 1 Feb 13

A.Baron-Cohen says...

I am registered with a GP and have not seen him/her in 10 years, I self diagnose using the internet and self medicate at the supermarket.
We should be grateful to have free NHS, but we should also be looking at more services being delivered online, via skype for example to cut costs and reduce the numbers of expensive GP, and increase nurses numbers instead.
I am registered with a GP and have not seen him/her in 10 years, I self diagnose using the internet and self medicate at the supermarket. We should be grateful to have free NHS, but we should also be looking at more services being delivered online, via skype for example to cut costs and reduce the numbers of expensive GP, and increase nurses numbers instead. A.Baron-Cohen

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