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Health of the Nation 2013

This is our Health of the Nation study, our bi-annual study of GPs’ and patients’ views on the nation’s health. We’ve looked at GPs’ lives, their views, and the trends they’re identifying in normal practice. We’ve also talked to patients, and asked for their opinions on a number of health matters, and the levels and quality of care they expect from our National Health Service.

With a decade of comparative data, it is interesting to see what has changed – and what has not. Some trends are still, sadly, on the increase; such as the continuing impact of mental health issues and health concerns arising from the workplace on our GPs’ workload. We asked GPs for their opinions on health education; the importance of self-diagnosis; and the quality of both established and potential future clinical pathways across the UK.

Patients have also given us their views. For us, the Health of the Nation study is of enormous help in enabling us to focus on providing products and services that people really need. After all, it canvases the views of the people who matter most. That’s why in this, the tenth year we’ve conducted the study, we’ve extended our research to include the views of 1,000 individuals, across the country, about their GPs and the service they receive.

Key findings:

  • Creating the perfect practice - The majority of GPs (73%) have told us they’re getting moderate or high levels of satisfaction from their jobs. But they also have firm opinions on what changes they’re likely to see, over the next twelve months, as the impact of commissioning takes full effect.
  • Health trends - We’ve been able to compare GPs’ perceptions of health trends over a ten-year period. Not surprisingly, mental health issues are still prevalent, but an alarmingly high proportion of GPs (84%) identified stress and anxiety issues being the greatest upward trend in their practices.
  • Self-diagnosis - This year, we explored self-diagnosis – asking the reasons why and how people try to find out the cause of symptoms they’re experiencing. Ten years ago, in our first Health of the Nation report, we found that only 15% of patients were probably self-diagnosing before an appointment. In stark contrast, only 1% of the patients we spoke to this year had not looked for information before visiting their GP.
  • Spotlight on mental health - Mental health issues are still the most prevalent type of illness being seen by our GPs, with 84% seeing more patients than ever before suffering from stress and anxiety. However, over a third of the GPs we spoke to (39%) thought media campaigns were having a positive impact on that situation.
  • The referral journey - Medical advances over the last decade mean that recommendations for treatment may have changed. But the referral process has altered very little. Surprisingly then, only 15% of GPs believe their patients ‘own’ the referral process. We believe this year’s Health of the Nation Study offers further confirmation that there’s an urgent need for more information, greater transparency and more involvement in the decision-making processes that affect patients’ treatment and care.

Find out more about GPs' views. Download our 2013 Health of the Nation report now (PDF 3,622KB).

WC01509 07/2013