An increasing number of people do not seek medical care due to costs such as to travelhas found a patient watchdog.
Many patients they are so concerned about cost that they also refuse dental care and do not collect prescriptions, according to a survey by Healthwatch England.
The organization, part of Care Quality Commissionhe said he was concerned that people would avoid vital care and called for government action.
Its national director, Louise Ansari, said: “It is clear that the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on people’s health and well-being is starting to hit.”
It also suggested that 15 percent of people have avoided seeking dental care because of the costs of standard checkups, up from 3 percent in October.
People also refuse to buy over-the-counter medicines, with 1 in 10 neglecting self-care for medicines they would normally trust.
Ten per cent of people also said they avoid collecting one or more NHS prescriptions due to cost.
Lynda Hesketh, 60, a rheumatoid arthritis patient from Cheshire, said the cost of living crisis has affected her health and well-being.
“Heating costs are a big concern as my joints stiffen in the cold,” he said. “I often turn on the heat or take a bath to relieve joint pain and stiffness, which adds to my energy bills.
“The energy crisis is really bad, I don’t remember it being as bad as this one.”
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Ms Hesketh told Healthwatch that she was also finding it difficult to pay for rides to hospital appointments.
He has also been asked to contribute to the cost of his social care, which he has seen as an additional expense that he cannot afford.
“This is all very stressful and extremely worrying, so much so that it regularly affects my sleep. I don’t feel up to all these challenges and they are contributing to the worsening of my condition,” she said.
Additional healthcare costs have put additional pressure on already strained household budgets.
These concerns have previously been highlighted by local councilors and healthcare representatives from St Helens, Merseyside, in November, who sent a letter to the chancellor jeremy hunt raising “extremely concerning evidence,” similar to the Healthwatch findings.
Commenting on the survey findings, Ms Ansari said: “We are very concerned that people are increasingly avoiding getting prescription drugs, making NHS appointments and traveling to appointments because of the extra costs.
“The steps people are taking to address the cost of living can have serious implications for their physical and mental health. This is likely to put an additional burden on the already overburdened NHS.
“Cost of living should never be a barrier to healthcare. The increase in the number of people who avoid vital care requires urgent joint action by the administration and the health and care services.
“Steps like offering over-the-counter prescription drugs based on ability to pay, raising awareness of travel reimbursement schemes and patient transport services, and ensuring people who need them accept social phone rates and broadband could make a big difference. for people who are struggling financially.”
The survey follows a similar study carried out in September 2022 by the charity Asthma + Lung UK, which found that almost a sixth of the people with asthma cut back on their inhaler so it lasts longer.
Healthwatch has asked NHS England to work with ofcom and telecommunications companies to ensure that hospital and GP phone numbers are free services after 11 per cent of respondents said they had avoided booking medical appointments due to the cost of broadband and phone bills.
A government spokesman said: “We know this is a difficult time for families across the country. That’s why we’ve moved swiftly to provide support, including an energy price guarantee, which is saving the typical household around £900 this winter, as well as £400 in bill payments and £1,200 for households more vulnerable.
“It is vital that people keep their appointments and we have limited bus tickets to £2 for thousands of bus routes to keep public transport accessible and affordable, while also freezing prescription charges for the first time in 12 years” .