Over 50s say speed of access to treatment is the key to good medical care

Friday 9 October 2015

• They want to be seen quickly by a specialist of their choice • Half say they struggle to get an appointment with their GP • Four in ten say they feel that the NHS has got worse over the last year

Over 50s say speed of access to treatment is the key to good medical care

A survey of almost 10,000 over 50s* has highlighted the key factors they look for when accessing medical treatment.  Being treated quickly was the most important factor for two thirds of people, while a third rated seeing a specialist of their choice as a priority according to the poll by Saga Health Insurance.

The over 50s lead increasingly active lives. Many are working longer than before and others are seeking to make the most of retirement, therefore it is no wonder that a third found it important to be back on their feet as soon as possible. The hospital they are treated at is also a key concern; over a third of over 50s say they want access to a hospital of their choice and three in ten over 50s say they want to go to a hospital nearby.

Of course the first step to access to treatment is to get a referral from your GP, but the over 50s report significant difficulties getting to see their doctor**.  Half say they find it difficult to get a same day appointment with their GP, with Londoners (60%) and the Scots (54%) struggling the most to get a same day appointment. People in Wales (38%), the South West (32%) and the West Midlands (32%) are the most likely to say it is easy to see their GP on the same day.

Those surveyed even said they find it difficult to get an appointment with their GP in advance, with over a quarter saying they have to wait up to a week to get an appointment, but they are lucky in comparison to the one in ten who say they have to wait up to four weeks.

Saga has seen a surge in people over 50 buying comprehensive medical cover when the rest of the market is reporting a decline, Saga policies all come with access to a free 24/7 GP helpline, enabling people to get advice and diagnosis from the comfort of their own home without having to wait for a slot with their local GP.

The over 50s are arguably the biggest users of the NHS, indeed three quarters of those surveyed said that had received NHS treatment since turning 60 so perhaps they are best placed to judge the current condition of the service.  Four in 10 say they feel the NHS has got worse over the last year although there are significant regional variations; over half of those in Wales say they had noticed a decline in the service, but only a third of Scots agreed. 

There is also a significant difference of opinion between men and women, with 45% of women saying the NHS had got worse, compared to 36% of men. One in five over 50s feel the NHS has improved in the last year.

Kevin McMullan, Senior Product Manager, Saga Health Insurance, commented: “Speed of treatment is clearly key in meeting the expectations of the over 50s, this may explain why we have seen a surge of people coming to us for  comprehensive health insurance at  a time when the market in general reports being in decline.  Problems with access to GPs have been well reported and seem only set to get worse as there doesn’t appear to be enough medical students striving to get into general practice, this is a burning issue which needs to be addressed to ensure people get access to the wider treatment they need and get them back on their feet as soon as possible.

Saga Health Insurance offers a range of  benefits for private treatment with cover to suit all needs, they all come with access to a free 24/7 GP  helpline, enabling people to get advice and diagnosis from the comfort of their own home without having to wait for a slot with their local GP.    Saga customers also have access to a Fast Track Appointment Service which supports them in quickly finding the right specialist and can even help by booking an appointment on behalf of the customer. 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors 
* Populus interviewed 9,885 Saga customers, all aged 50+, online between 21 and
27 April 2015. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules; for more information see www.populus.co.uk.

** Populus interviewed 9,521 Saga customers, all aged 50+, online between 21 and
27 July 2015. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules; for more information see www.populus.co.uk.

About Saga Health Insurance
At Saga, we specialise in understanding the needs of people over 50 and we have been providing quality private health insurance for more than 25 years.
Our health insurance offers:
•     Comprehensive range of plans at competitive prices
•     Prompt access to private medical treatment
•     Access to an extensive choice of UK private hospitals
•     No upper age limit and no medical required

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