13.2m Brits avoid routine health check-ups over Covid fears

A new study released today has found that four in 10 Brits (44%) feel more confident in the NHS and the services it provides in the last six months, yet there is still much anxiety and avoidance around seeking healthcare; as a staggering 38% of Brits with routine check-ups, amounting to 13.2 million people, have avoided these in the last six months, including mammograms, cervical smear tests, blood pressure checks etc, rising to over half of Generation Y (51% of those aged 25-39) and a further 46% of Generation Z (18-24).

In their new quarterly update of the Health Wealth & Happiness Index, LifeSearch have found that 60% of all Brits think that health inequality has worsened in the UK in the last six months (rising to 65% of Londoners).

Furthermore, almost a fifth (17%) of young people (18-24) and one in 10 of all Brits (10%), has resorted to self-funding their healthcare by taking out private medical insurance (PMI) in the last six months to avoid NHS waiting times, rising to 21% of those living in Northern Ireland. A further 35% of young people (and 27% of all adults) have made more use of virtual healthcare such as virtual GPs.

Britons’ Health, Wealth and Happiness has reached its highest level since the Covid-19 pandemic began, rising 22% in the last quarter to a reading today of 91.4, according to the LifeSearch Index compiled with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and dating back to 2011.

All three indices reported improvements in the last quarter (April-June 2021) but the largest increase was seen in the LifeSearch Health Index which has rallied by 56% to a reading of 96.2, higher than at any point in the last two years (Q2 2019 saw a reading of 99.4).

The study also found:

  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of Brits seeking GP appointments have had to wait longer in the last six months and 61% seeking a dentist appointment have had to wait longer. Overall, four- fifths (82%) that are seeking hospital treatment say that waiting times are longer
  • A third (35%) who have required specialist treatment, such as a physio or chiropractor, have avoided this care
  • Four in ten (43%) of all Brits are still fearful of medical environments due to Covid
  • Over a third (35%) of Brits have relied more on internet/apps for health support and advice, rising to 44% of younger people (18-24)
  • 40% of who have needed to see a doctor say they have avoided seeing one even if pre-Covid they would have gone in same circumstances

Emma Walker, Chief Marketing Officer at LifeSearch who commissioned the study said: “It’s encouraging to see the nation’s health wealth and happiness begin to recover again after a long period of uncertainty and anxiety for so many. The Health Index in particular has rebounded in the last three months, no doubt a reflection of the Covid vaccine rollout, but we see some red flags appear when it comes to consumers’ health in the future. The fact that 38% of Brits have avoided routine check-ups like cervical smear tests or blood pressure checks, is a huge concern. While many of us feel confident in the NHS, there are clearly some concerns about wait times and fearing Covid in a medical environment. 

 “In the last six months alone, one in 10 of us has taken to funding our own healthcare, and many more are turning to virtual healthcare and the internet for advice and care – a trend that could well continue in the years ahead.” 

 

BRITS’ WEALTH CONTINUES TO RECOVER AS 14% REPAY DEBTS TOTALLING £2.4 BILLION 

The LifeSearch Wealth Index has continued to recover (up just 5% to 90.1 in Q2) as all financial indicators improved in the last quarter, except the household savings rate which fell considerably as consumers returned to spending over saving. Earnings growth remains heightened at present (annual growth in total pay stood at 8.6% in both April and May – the largest values on record) and house price growth has been strong facilitated by the ongoing stamp duty holiday.

On a more granular level, the consumer research found that 14% of Brits have repaid debts in the last six months, rising to 20% of Gen Y.  An average of £319 on debts was paid per month, totalling £2.4 billion nationwide1, and rising to £469 pm among the over 55s.  A further 7% have overpaid on their mortgage, rising to 11% of men and 12% of Gen Y, at an average rate of £319 per month. Furthermore, 39% of Brits claim to have saved some money in the last six months – on average, £281 each month totalling £5.8 billion2.

Conversely, 14% of Brits have taken out new debt in the last six months. This rises to 23% among Gen Y. Of those that have borrowed more in the last six months, the average sum borrowed was £208 per month, rising to £244 among Gen Y.

 

Nina Skero, Chief Executive, Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) commented:“The latest Health, Wealth and Happiness findings reflect the strengthening of the economy in recent months. Cebr expects this to continue in Q3, bringing particular benefits to the labour market. To meet higher demand levels, employers are set to take on more staff, putting downward pressure on the unemployment rate. This improvement is set to be short-lived, however, as the upcoming termination of the furlough scheme risks triggering a wave of redundancies in Q4. With this in mind, the end of the year could prove to be a volatile period for the Health, Wealth and Happiness Index.”

 

BRITS HAPPIER BUT STILL BELOW PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS 

Suffering notable falls in 2020, the LifeSearch Happiness Index has rebounded in the last quarter by 15% to a reading of 87.8, the highest since the Covid pandemic began. Nevertheless, the reading remains considerably below pre-pandemic levels, highlighting the lingering impact of restrictions and uncertainty.

For a full copy of the LifeSearch Health, Wealth and Happiness Report and the Q2 2021 update, visit www.lifesearch.com/hwh.