Two out of five people unable to afford doctor’s visit

Irish Cancer Society warns public may be missing early diagnosis by not visiting GP

Two out of five people said they had avoided visiting their doctor because they could not afford the appointment fee, a new survey has found.

Some 42 per cent of 1,000 adults surveyed said they had avoided going to the GP as they were too busy. The research was carried out on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society, to mark Cancer Week Ireland.

Just under a third of respondents (31 per cent) said they were worried that their concerns would waste the doctor’s time, and 29 per cent of people said they had avoided attending their GP as they were worried about what they might find.

Some 35 per cent of people said they had put off visiting their GP as they had too many other issues to worry about.

Growing waiting lists for appointments featured in people’s decision to avoid booking a doctor’s visit, with 28 per cent of people saying they felt they would have to wait too long for an appointment.

Embarrassed

Some 27 per cent of people said they were too embarrassed to ask their GP about a symptom they had, and one in five said they felt it would be too difficult to talk to their doctor about a symptom or issue they were having.

The poll was carried out by Coyne Research over two days in July.

The Irish Cancer Society said the survey shows people may be missing early cancer diagnosis by putting off a visit to the GP, for various reasons.

Averil Power, chief executive of the society, said it was "disappointing to see the range of barriers" putting people off visiting their doctor. "When it comes to cancer, early diagnosis can be the difference between life and death," she said.

“No one should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed when it comes to talking about their health. Nor should cost be a factor in accessing professional medical advice,” Ms Power said.

The research comes at the start of Cancer Week, run by the Irish Cancer Society and Trinity College Dublin, to promote public conversations around the disease.

In 2016, 1.68 million people had a medical card, and 470,000 people had a GP-visit card, both allow people to visit their doctor free of charge.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

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