Almost two-thirds of patients live with medical conditions "longer than they would like" or avoid going to the doctor altogether, research shows.
The lack of 'suitable' appointment times force over a quarter of people either to wait over a week to see a GP or out of surgeries entirely, an Aviva UK survey claims.
Furthermore, less than a third (30%) of patients surveyed were seen by a GP within 48 hours when they made an appointment over the last 12 months.
Across the UK, children appear to be seen more quickly than adults once a request for an appointment was made.
Over half of respondents claimed their children were seen by a GP within 48 hours.
GP waiting times came in as the number one gripe people have when visiting a GP. Nearly half of those surveyed found it "annoying".
However, the same research showed 80% of patients are "happy" with the quality of the medical treatment or advice they received in GP surgeries.
"We know from our recent Health of the Nation report that GPs are under pressure and that time constraints are a significant issue, so it's clear that some patients are feeling the knock-on effects in longer waits for an appointment and not getting the right treatment as quickly as they'd like," said Dr Doug Wright, head of clinical development at Aviva UK Health.
He claims research shows GPs are increasingly spending time dealing with issues that don't require their attention.
Wright has called for more education informing people of the "appropriate sources of support" available to help relieve the pressure on GP surgeries.
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Maybe pts could just keep appts? The biggest reason for lack of availability of appts is the number that are wasted. Secondly a patient knows their appt time when they make it Drs only know what a patient wants dealing with when they present. We do ask, and it is in our practice leaflet but patients say they need a single appt and then stay with Dr for half an hour. Or the back up services do not exist. Tried getting a suicidal 17-year-old seen by secondary care recently – it is a nightmare too old for 0-16 team, too young for adults, the most constructive suggestion we got was 'well, send them down and they can wait in A&E but it might be a couple of hours till they are seen'" – Name and address withheld