Young adults aged 18 to 34 years were worst affected, more than half this working population were forced to miss work as they pursued or waited for NHS care
Long waiting times for National Health Service (NHS) care are leaving people too sick to work in the UK, which is affecting the country’s economy.
One in three people missed work in 2022 due to delays in accessing NHS care, revealed a new survey by Pollsters Savanta.
The market research consultancy surveyed 2,235 people in the UK this month on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.
According to the survey results, 19 per cent of the participants could not go to work as they were waiting for a GP appointment.
While 15 per cent of the respondents had to take a long period off work while they waited for treatment or surgery, 12 per cent missed work as they waited for emergency dental treatments.
Overall, 36 per cent of those surveyed had missed at least some work because of difficulty getting NHS care.
Sarah Olney, a Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, has expressed strong disappointment that so many patients have been left to suffer “as a result of this Conservative government’s neglect.”
“[Rishi] Sunak and [Jeremy] Hunt’s failure to get a grip on the crisis in our NHS is having a detrimental effect on the entire country. Millions battling health conditions have been left in limbo and our economy is suffering as a result,” Olney told The Guardian.
The Savanta poll found that more than half (54 per cent) of young adults aged 18 to 34 years have been forced to miss work while they pursued or waited for care, such as an appointment with a family doctor.
More people out of work because of long-term sickness
Last year, Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that around 2.5 million people in the UK were out of the labour force between June and August 2022 because of “long-term sickness.”
The number of working-age adults who were economically inactive because of long-term sickness were around 2.0 million people in spring 2019.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK in early 2020, the number of people out of work because of long-term sickness has risen by 363,000, it stated.
Mental health, musculoskeletal conditions and heart disease were some of the main causes of long-term sickness or disability.
According to the ONS, the industries that saw the highest levels of long-term sickness rates were wholesale and retail, transport and storage, accommodation and food service, and health and social sector.
It cited a range of factors behind this recent rise in economic inactivity, including National Health Service (NHS) waiting times, long COVID, and the ageing workforce.
It is estimated that over 9 million people across the UK are waiting for hospital care, mostly in England (almost 7.8 million).
Back to Work Plan
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride recently unveiled a “Back to Work Plan” to get more people into work.
It aims to help up to 1,100,000 people with long-term health conditions, disabilities or long-term unemployment to look for and stay in work.
To execute the plan, the government is investing £2.5 billion over the next five years – including over £300m of additional investment next year
It will be built on the £7 billion package announced at this year’s Spring Budget, which included investment targeted at services for mental health, musculoskeletal conditions and cardiovascular disease.