The majority of Britons would consider paying to be seen privately if it meant they were diagnosed quicker, new research has found.
Concerns about cost, waiting times and access to healthcare through government reforms are driving people to seek private alternatives to the NHS, a Simplyhealth report has said.
It also revealed that people are turning to different sources, especially the internet, for information about illnesses.
According to the YouGov poll of 5,097 working adults conducted for the health insurance provider, more than half of respondents (59%) said they would consider going private if it meant a faster diagnosis.
And just over half believe they will need to wait longer for treatment than ever before while 45% agree that government changes may mean that they are denied treatment altogether by the NHS.
The results also showed that 9% of respondents held private medical insurance themselves with 19% currently having employers that cover the costs.
A further 12% have dental insurance and another 6% have a health cash plan.
Dr Pixie McKenna, from Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies, is working with Simplyhealth on the survey.
She said the report confirmed her suspicions that the public was genuinely concerned about how the NHS will care for them in the future.
"It is staggering that 45% believe they may be denied treatment at some point in the future, while over half feel they may need to wait longer for treatment.
"Although the survey shows there is concern around accessibility to NHS treatment, your local GP should still be first port of call if you have a health concern.
"If your doctor decides that you need specialist input and then you are referred elsewhere, it is at this point you can elect to see a consultant on the NHS or privately," she added.
The survey found that technology was having an increasing influence on the way people dealt with medical complaints.
More than half (58%) would rather turn to the internet than immediately see a healthcare professional, and a similar number (55%) would be willing to give information about symptoms with half saying they would give basic information such as their age and gender.
A quarter (23%) would give details about their medical history online.
Nearly a third of people (31%) use the internet to find out if their symptoms warrant a visit to their GP.
Younger people are often more comfortable with communicating over the internet and are more likely to disclose personal information.
Raman Sankaran, sales and marketing director - direct for Simplyhealth, said: "Understandably, with the suggested changes to the NHS, people are worried about what this means to them, prompting people to consider turning to the private sector for faster access.
"In fact, over 50% are worried about the cost of looking after their individual and family health over the next five years.
"This suggests that people are already beginning to recognise the benefits but that there needs to be greater awareness around how, for a small amount a month, individuals can gain faster access to diagnosis and treatment.
"It is interesting to see that social media and instant messaging features strongly in our results, with 56% of those willing to disclose information online saying they would be happy to take part in a web chat with a healthcare professional via instant messenger.
"All of this suggests that there is a shift in the way people want to access health advice and interact with healthcare professionals now, and this is only going to continue in the future," he added.
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