Britons too embarrassed to visit a doctor, says new BUPA report

75px-Bupa.pngMore than half of Britons ignore potentially serious health problems in the hope that they will go away. Others worry about wasting GPs time and still more are too embarrassed to visit a doctor.

Others  listed the difficulties of getting to see a doctor as an excuse.  And surprisingly the unemployed are most likely to delay seeing a doctor in the face of serious health symptoms.

In this video below Dr Annabel Bentley, Medical Director at Bupa Health and Wellbeing reveals that these  worrying figures obtained via YouGov research of almost 4,400 Britons and provides her advice on what symptoms to look out for and when to make an appointment with your GP.

Research published by Bupa reveals that two in five people (39%) have delayed visiting their doctor; even if they believed their symptoms could be potentially serious. The study also identified that the unemployed are the most likely to delay visiting a GP (50%) when potentially grave symptoms appeared – even though early stage diagnosis is associated with better survival rates for many diseases, including cancer. Over half of Britons say they have put off having their symptoms checked out because they hoped they would ‘simply go away’, with 1 in 10 saying they had delayed making an appointment due to embarrassment. 
One in three people (32%) put off having their worrying symptoms checked out because they didn’t want to waste their GP’s time and three in ten (29%) delayed calling the doctor because it was difficult to make an appointment or find a convenient time. Yet, early stage diagnosis can be hugely important, especially in cancer cases where Department of Health figures1 show that of those diagnosed early with bowel cancer (England’s third most common cancer), more than nine out of ten people survive for at least five years, compared with less than one in ten (6%) of those diagnosed at a late stage. 
However Bupa’s survey shows that less than half of people (44%) would make an appointment with their GP if they noticed a change in their bowel habits over a few weeks – a common symptom of the illness. 
The research also revealed that potentially serious symptoms could be going unchecked owing to a lack of awareness of what to look out for. Well-known serious symptoms including unexpected lumps or a change in a mole were more likely to prompt a trip to the GP, but other serious symptoms – which could turn out to be more significant than they seem – were less likely to do so: · Five in ten people (53%) would not make an urgent appointment if they suffered a persistent cough or hoarseness that lasted for more than a few weeks. 
People aged over 55 were more aware of most symptoms listed apart from impotence – only one in six of over-55s (16%) would visit the doctor about impotence, compared to one in three 18-24 year olds (32%). Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other medical conditions so it’s very important for men to talk to their doctor about it. · Four in ten people (42%) would not make an urgent appointment if they suffered unexplained weight loss.
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Internet based interpreting service saved a man’s life

SignTranslate On-Line Sign Language InterpretingIf we needed any further proof of how important the internet has become, this is it…

Deaf patient Bartholomew Kelley usually asked his daughter to interpret on any visits to the Doctors. But he suddenly became ill while his daughter was away on holiday and he knew he couldn’t put off going to see his GP. He was suffering from chest pains.

When he turned up at his surgery without an appointment, Dr Shaikh of the Peel Precinct Surgery in Carlton Vale London used an online sign language service to diagnose a serious heart condition.

Bartholomew is profoundly deaf and his first language is British Sign Language [BSL]. Luckily for Bartholomew, Dr Shaikh had very recently set up his surgery to use an on-line interpreting service, SignTranslate, which uses a simple webcam to link with a live qualified BSL interpreter. The Doctor speaks to the interpreter on the phone, and the interpreter and Deaf patient sign the conversation.

Dr Shaikh said “It was brilliant. As soon as Bartholomew started telling me through the interpreter about his symptoms I realised that his chest pains were serious. I called an ambulance and got him into hospital”. The whole process took less than 10 minutes.

The translation service, SignTranslate, is owned by healthcare charity for the Deaf, SignHealth. SignHealth is a UK charity focused on improving the mental and physical health of Deaf people.

Chief Executive of SignHealth, Steve Powell, said that Bartholomew’s situation was not a unique one;

“Every day a Deaf person will attend a health consultation with no interpreter, often relying on family or friends to communicate a diagnosis or treatment. We know that inadequate communication presents a risk to a Deaf patient and we also know that interpreters are rarely available for same day or urgent appointments. Bartholomew was lucky that his GP had an on-line solution to hand.”

All surgeries in the country already have access to the service, free of charge; they just pay a small charge for the online minutes used.

The only technology needed to use the service is broadband internet and a webcam, so it is extremely accessible for anyone with a computer.

If you would like to find out more about SignHealth or their brilliant translation service SignTranslate, please visit or