UK patients impatient with the NHS

Article date: 26 April 2010

  • Delays in diagnoses lead to health worries say patients.

People are turning to DIY diagnoses while they wait to find out what’s wrong with them according to new research.

The "Delayed Diagnosis" study1, commissioned by Aviva UK Health, reveals that people aged 18 to 65 are researching their symptoms while they wait for appointments – leading to panic about the state of their health.  

Nine in 10 (93%) people say that their number one priority is knowing what’s wrong with them when they are unwell, and worrying while they wait for their illness to be diagnosed makes being unwell more stressful (88%). This has led to:  

  • Over half (54%) worrying themselves doing internet diagnoses whilst waiting for an appointment with a specialist
  • One in three (33%) have panicked after asking friends’ and family’s opinion of their symptoms
  • Nearly half (49%) have panicked that there might be something seriously wrong with them.

The research reveals that consumers still believe NHS waiting lists are too long (86%), with four in five (82%) saying the worst thing about the NHS is the amount of time spent waiting for an appointment with a specialist to find out what is wrong with them.

Six in 10 (63%) believe that the standard of NHS treatment is just as good as private healthcare but that consultations are always rushed. Being able to get diagnosed more quickly (50%) tops the list of private healthcare advantages.

Aviva UK Health commissioned the study to mark the launch of its Speedy Diagnostics product, which allows patients to access diagnostic tests and specialist consultants privately while opting for NHS, or self-funded private treatment thereafter.

Neal Archbold, head of propositions and market development at Aviva UK Health, said: “Almost nine in 10 (88%) say that worrying while you wait to find out what’s wrong with you makes being ill even more stressful. We’ve introduced Speedy Diagnostics to help remove this anxiety and enable customers to focus on getting better.

”We recognise that not everyone’s budgets can stretch to a full health insurance policy covering both diagnosis and treatment and have developed Speedy Diagnosis to give individuals prompt access to benefit they most value – diagnostic tests.

”People value the quality of care that the NHS offers - but they want the peace of mind that quick access to diagnostic tests provides and the ability to make informed decisions about next stages of treatment.  If this means returning to the NHS then knowing what is wrong with them helps their doctors prioritise them correctly. If they choose to have the treatment privately then knowing what is required helps them decide if the costs are affordable.”

Speedy Diagnostics is a new low cost diagnostic health insurance policy that costs approximately 70% less than standard, full private health insurance. Individuals have prompt access to specialist consultations and diagnostic tests as a private patient.

Key benefits of Speedy Diagnostics include2:

  • No overall maximum benefit limit
  • Access to specialist consultations for diagnostic purposes
  • Cover for diagnostic tests including CT and MRI scans, x-rays, pathology and physiological tests such as ECGs
  • Hospital costs typically associated with diagnostics as an in-patient or day-patient.

Speedy Diagnostics also gives customers access to 24 hour GP and Stress Counselling Helplines and up to 40% discount off leisure club and gym membership at a selection of UK gyms.  


For Further Information:
Felicity Fagan
Telephone: 0207 908 6443

Amber Scott (nee Chable)
PR and Marketing Communications Manager, Aviva UK Health
Telephone: 023 8035 9383

Notes to editors:

1 Aviva surveyed 2696 18-65 year olds. The survey was completed 6-8 April 2010.

2 This is a summary of the benefits available for this policy. Full terms and conditions are available on request.

Speedy Diagnostics is specifically designed to cover specialist consultations and diagnostic tests. It does not cover the following:

  • Treatment
  • Consultations and diagnostic tests after a specialist has made a diagnosis
  • Routine medical examinations and screening
  • Diagnostic tests ordered by a GP without referral to a specialist
  • Diagnostic tests to find the cause of infertility
  • Diagnostic tests related to sleep disorders.

Full details and terms and conditions can be found on:

Health and Wellbeing from Aviva
Established in 1990 as the healthcare arm of Norwich Union, Norwich Union Healthcare was re-branded to Aviva Health UK Limited in 2009. We provide a range of private medical insurance, income protection, occupational health and group life products and services that cover over 2,400,000 lives. We are one of the largest providers of income protection, group life and private medical insurance in the UK.

Aviva Health also provides occupational health solutions and services to a wide range of industry sectors. By utilising their large fleet of purpose built mobile clinics and approved medical centres, staffed by a team of experienced occupational physicians and nursing staff, the services are designed to meet the individual needs of clients.

Aviva Health UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and is a member of the Association of British Insurers and the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Aviva’s news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva’s internet press centre at

About Aviva
Aviva, the international savings, investments and insurance group, is the world’s fifth largest insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. 

In the UK, Aviva is a leading provider of life, pensions, investment, general insurance and health products to more than 20 million customers. Aviva also provides roadside assistance through RAC. Products are distributed through a number of channels including IFAs, brokers, corporate partners and direct to customers via the internet.

Aviva's UK Insurance business has a market share of around 14%, making it the largest general insurer in the UK. The business is focused on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

Aviva's life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 10.3% and a leading position in its key markets of savings, protection, and annuities.

Aviva’s news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at

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