One in three people has missed work in the last year due to delays in access National Health Service attention, according to new research.
Opposition politicians said the findings showed long waiting times and a record NHS waiting list were damaging the economy by leaving people too sick to work.
Polling firm Savanta surveyed 2,235 people in the UK this month on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. They found that:
19% have not been able to go to work because they were waiting for an appointment with the family doctor
15% had to be absent from work for a long period while waiting for treatment or surgery.
12% were unable to work while waiting for emergency dental treatments.
Overall, 36% of respondents had lost at least some work due to difficulties receiving medical care.
Young adults were the most affected. More than half (54%) of people aged 18 to 34 have been forced to miss work while seeking or waiting to receive care, such as an appointment with a family doctor.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that around 2.5 million people in the UK are economically inactive because they are sick, 400,000 more than before Covid arrived.
“It is outrageous that so many patients have had to suffer as a result of the negligence of this Conservative government,” said Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman.
“The failure of (Rishi) Sunak and (Jeremy) Hunt to control the crisis in our NHS is having a detrimental effect across the country. “Millions of people struggling with health issues have been left in limbo, and our economy is suffering as a result,” Olney added.
More than 9 million people across the UK are waiting for hospital care, including almost 7.8 million in England, the most so far.
The findings led one health service chief to claim the NHS was “broken” as a safety net that people could still rely on to recover quickly and return to work.
“As demand continues to outpace supply, healthcare leaders know that access and timely treatment for patients remains a serious challenge, and it is clear that this has financial ramifications for patients – and the broader economy. as well as for health.
“The state of the health service is intrinsically linked to the wider economy. “If the safety net that keeps people healthy is broken, more people will be left out of work at the cost of themselves and the wider economy,” said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
He urged Hunt to use some of his reports. “fiscal headroom” of between £13bn and £20bn in Wednesday’s autumn statement to increase investment in the NHS as a way to boost the economy by reducing the number of people unable to work due to illness.
“The case for investment is clear: research shows that for every pound invested in health there is a return of four pounds to the wider economy, and getting people off waiting lists will help many get back to full health. physical form, reducing the limits. in their ability to work.”
The ONS said last year The industries with the highest levels of long-term illness rates were wholesale and retail trade (10.4%), transportation and warehousing (10%), and accommodation and food services (9.2%).
The health and social sector was also severely affected: one in 13 people (7.8% of the working population) suffers from a long-term illness, according to the ONS.
Olney said Hunt should use his £13bn “windfall” to increase the number of GPSaddressing waiting times and providing more mental health support.
The department of health and social care has been contacted for comment.