Cost forcing patients to delay GP visits, study finds

Public patients face long delays for consultant visits, Adelaide Hospital Society and TCD find

More than 60 per cent of private patients are delaying going to see a GP or consultant due to the cost involved, according to a new survey.

A similar number say they have experienced difficulties in paying for drugs and other medical expenses, the survey carried out by the Adelaide Hospital Society and the TCD department of public health finds.

Among public patients, more than seven out of 10 (71 per cent) reported long waiting times to see hospital consultants, and one in two (52 per cent) reported long waiting times to receive treatment after diagnosis.

More than 500 patients were surveyed for the study, which is the last of a four-part series analysing the views of different participants in the health service.


One in four patients said chronic disease management in the Irish healthcare system needed to be completely overhauled, with a majority supporting care for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer in general practice.

Need to reform primary care

Lead author Dr Catherine Darker said the report showed the need to reform primary care, as promised in the Programme for Government.

“The inequities in the care afforded to both public and private patients are clearly evident in the results of this survey, with the majority of public patients reporting long waiting times to see consultants and receive treatment after diagnosis, as well as having difficulty in accessing specialist tests.

“Private patients are struggling too. They are finding it difficult to pay for medications and other out-of-pocket expenses, and are also delaying attending their GP because of cost.”

Some 63 per cent of private patients delayed going to see a GP due to cost, while 68 per cent delayed seeing a consultant for this reason.

The survey indicates a high level of acceptance of generic medicines, with almost nine out of 10 patients saying they were happy to accept such products.

Over half of patients say that they do not receive a written list of their medications or written advice on how to manage their chronic illness at home.

Half of patients (50 per cent) were almost never or generally not asked for their thoughts on a treatment plan, with 38 per cent reporting that they were almost never or generally not consulted regarding their treatment choices.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times