1 in 2 people worried about visiting their GP during COVID-19 pandemic

1 in 2 people worried about visiting their GP during COVID-19 pandemic


One third of people say COVID-19 lockdown had a negative impact on their health

Research shows significant level of cancelled appointments and significant level of concern among the public

Dublin, Monday 12th October 2020: New research from Pfizer reveals that half (51%) of people were worried about visiting their GP during lockdown, while 49% were worried about visiting a hospital. Meanwhile one-third (32%) of people in Ireland claim that pandemic related lockdown and restrictions had a negative impact on their health. This was highest among those with a medical condition at 39% and among 25-34-year olds at 43%.  

The new research reveals the impact of the restrictions on healthcare during the last number of months. Of those who state they were impacted the main reasons cited were:  lack of access to a doctor (46%), treatment delays (28%), lack of access to diagnostics or tests (25%), diagnosis delays (16%).

Commenting on the research, Paul Reid, Managing Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland said; “One of the worrying aspects of the pandemic has been the impact on non-COVID related healthcare with patients not presenting to doctors and hospitals in the same manner that they normally would.  This is a major concern as early diagnosis of a medical condition such as cancer or stroke is often critical to ensure a good outcome. We will be living with some level of restrictions for some time and I would encourage all people to seek medical care promptly when required.”

“Pfizer has accelerated its scientific research efforts to help bring forward a COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with BioNTech. Our Phase 2/3 trial has just been expanded from 30,000 people to 44,000 and we are on track to have the read-outs from that trial this month.  We are manufacturing at risk and are already making the vaccine while the trial concludes and while we seek regulatory approval in order to expedite global supply.”

The survey results also highlight perceptions about science in the context of COVID-19. 86% agree that scientific advancement is more important in this COVID-19 era while 77% would like to hear more from scientists in the media. 71% would like to know more about the science involved in developing a medicine or vaccine.

Further statistics from the Pfizer research:

  • 43% of those surveyed say a medical appointment was cancelled; 26% having had a patient-initiated cancellation and 25% a HCP/hospital-initiated cancellation.
  • 26% indicated they would not visit a GP during the height of the pandemic in Ireland, while 27% said the same about a hospital
  • Just 6% of people report being screened for cancer, high cholesterol, blood pressure or female conditions such as breast or cervical during April, May and June; a significant drop of 8-percentage points compared to both the last two years (but at a time when all national screening had been suspended). 
  • The majority of those who were worried about visiting a GP/Hospital in April and Mary (60%), and those still worried about visiting in July (69%), are concerned that they might be missing a diagnosis or require medical treatment.
  • 28% of 18-24-year olds cited mental health issues and 12% cited lack of exercise as other negative health effects of the lockdown.
  • 12% of adults did not seek treatment during the lockdown despite feeling unwell.

Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy, the Irish Cancer Society said: “Cancer patients need to be diagnosed and treated at the earliest opportunity, so they stand the best chance of survival and having a good quality of life. Pfizer’s research supports the data from the HSE that shows fewer people accessed diagnostic services during the heightened phases of the pandemic. Thankfully, the number of people being referred to cancer rapid access clinics is increasing but our message remains the same - when it comes to cancer, early detection is key and can be the difference between life or death in some cases. That’s why it’s so important people contact their GP immediately if they notice potential cancer symptoms like a lump, bleeding, weight loss or fatigue. There are still people out there who are suffering with symptoms in silence and it’s vital that they seek help and call their GP today.”

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy and Patient Support at the Irish Heart Foundation commented: “This new research from Pfizer sheds light on how the COVID-19 related restrictions have negatively affected our nation’s health and wellbeing. With check-ups and appointments being cancelled and people reluctant to seek medical attention during lockdown, we will likely be seeing the long-term impact of this over time. At the Irish Heart Foundation, we are urging Government not to redeploy vital frontline staff from cardiac and stroke services to meet new surges of the pandemic and we are urging the public to seek immediate medical care if they experience heart issues or symptoms of stroke. Any delay in seeking urgent medical care could have fatal consequences.”

The research shows that while incidence of online health consultations is low, people’s satisfaction levels with the experience is quite high. Just 6% of survey respondents had an online or combined online/telephone health appointment during the height of the pandemic in Ireland while 3 in 5 people had a consultation by telephone. 77% were satisfied with a telephone appointment and 59% pleased with an online consultation. The study revealed a slight year-on-year increase in those who have purchased a medicine online (9% up from 7% last year).

The full report which studies perceptions of health, wellness and science in Ireland, will launch in full next month.


About the research:

This research is part of the 2020 Pfizer Health and Science Index, which is a nationally representative sample of 1,050 adults, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes Research company. Fieldwork was completed between 23rd June and 8th July 2020, with all interviews conducted online.


About Pfizer in Ireland

Pfizer employs approximately 4,000 people at six sites in Ireland across manufacturing, shared services, R&D, treasury and commercial operations. Pfizer have invested $8 billion in operations in Ireland since opening in 1969.  Many of Pfizer’s leading medicines are manufactured for global export from Irish sites. 

Follow us on Twitter @Pfizer_Ireland, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PfizerIreland/ or visit www.pfizer.ie.




Published: 12th October 2020.

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