FOUR in ten people (42 per cent) feel guilty calling for health advice outside surgery opening hours, according to research commissioned by Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP).
According to the survey, one in five people (22 per cent) had called 999 or visited A&E as their first point of call in urgent or emergency situations or outside normal surgery opening times.
Seven per cent had called their GP surgery, eight per cent has used NHS Direct and two per cent had visited their local pharmacy.
With more than half of people in the UK (53 per cent) wanting more information about out-of-hours services, earlier this year the DPP launched a campaign which aims to advise people on the best steps to take for dealing with urgent health problems.
The overwhelming majority of people (83 per cent) surveyed claimed to know what to do when their GP surgery is closed. However, nine out of ten GPs surveyed (91 per cent) admitted they think some people use out- of-hours services inappropriately.
Dr David Wrigley, medical spokesperson for DPP, said: "With a clearer understanding of how and when to use NHS services out-of-hours, we hope to reduce the culture of 'guilt' among people and also ensure that they get the right treatment from the most appropriate health professional. …