One in three Brits miss work while waiting for healthcare

  • Shock poll reveals staggering number of working UK adults say they have missed work in the past year due to being stuck on waiting lists or attempting to see a GP or dentist
  • Half of young adults (18-34) missed work last year due to NHS waiting lists
  • Lib Dem MP warns crisis in the NHS is damaging economic growth as one in three adults missed work waiting for an appointment in the last year
  • Party calls on the Government to use the £13bn windfall to deliver 8,000 GPs, cut waiting times and improve mental health support, among other measures

A new poll, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, has found that one in three working adults say they have missed work in the last year while waiting for a medical appointment or treatment on the NHS.

That includes over half (54%) of young adults (18-34) who say they’ve been forced to miss work in the past year due to soaring health waiting lists, including seeing GPs.

The devastating poll reveals reasons for missing work in the past year include:

  • One in five (19%) working adults say that they have been unable to go to work while waiting to see their GP
  • One in seven (15%) who say they’ve had to take a significant length of time off work as they wait for NHS treatment or surgery for a health condition
  • Just over one in ten (12%) stuck waiting for an emergency dental appointment then missing work

The Liberal Democrats are warning that these treatment backlogs and an alarming shortage of GP appointments are damaging economic growth and will continue to impact both the economy and people’s quality of life without a significant rescue package.

According to the Resolution Foundation, the Chancellor is expected to have “fiscal headroom” for additional spending worth an extra £13bn going into the Autumn Statement.

The party is calling on the Government to use the Autumn Statement to invest that extra £13bn into the NHS to deliver on a robust series of measures to support the health service through this winter and longer term. This includes recruiting 8,000 more GPs, reversing Conservative cuts to vital public health services in local communities and funding 200 new radiotherapy machines.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

It’s outrageous that so many patients have been left to suffer as a result of this Conservative Government’s neglect. Thousands of people are waiting an appalling length of time to start treatment, with countless more desperately trying to get hold of their GP to no avail.

Sunak and 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.

This Conservative Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye. It’s clear that growth is not possible unless we first tackle the ever-growing NHS treatment and GP backlogs that are holding millions of people back and having a devastating impact on quality of life.

That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling for an emergency £13 billion investment in the NHS that would deliver new GPs, cut waiting times and improve mental health support.

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This entry was posted in News and Press releases.


  • We could definitely use 8000 more GPs but the issue is that there are not 8000 qualified doctors available to employ – unless we plan to recruit overseas doctors who are currently working in countries that probably need them more than us.

  • Peter Hirst 27th Nov '23 - 5:12pm

    More could also be done to streamline these waiting lists. What are all these young people waiting for? How many could be managed differently with improved information and resources? For instance most mental health conditions might be better treated out of the NHS using some of the many charitable and private services available if more widely known and better funded.

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