British workers too busy to get ill

Jan 08 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Britain's high pressure, long-hours working culture is forcing workers to put off going to the doctor even when they have genuine ailments and could mean they are storing up long-term health problems.

Far from being a nation of work-shy malingerers, British workers are in fact likely to put off going to the doctor even when they genuinely need to, believing themselves too busy and under too much pressure to spare the time, a new survey has suggested.

But the research by insurer More Than has warned that workers could be storing up a raft of longer term health problems for the future.

The survey found that more than two out of five British workers put off going to the doctor, often cancelling appointments or storing up ailments to avoid making more than one appointment.

Some 13 per cent said they relied on alternative means of getting medical advice, such as the NHS Direct phone advice line or their local pharmacist.

One in 10 women even resorted to self-diagnosis by getting their health advice from friends and family.

And while January traditionally sees a surge in applications to join a gym, nearly half of working gym members admitted to going just once a week or fewer.

Out of those, one in five never made it to the gym at all, with fatigue and "work commitments" the main reasons for not going.

More than four out of 10 workers said they were just too tired to head for the gym either before or after work and more than a third directly attributed their lack of exercise to work commitments.

Mike Bowman, head of insurance at More Than, said: "At a time when healthy eating and exercise is high on the government's agenda, these findings don't bode well for our health or make good business sense, especially when 10 per cent of workers openly admit to being resentful that work takes precedence over health."