Patients see GPs to cure loneliness
Up to 10 patients a day visit their GP surgery mainly because they are lonely, according to new research.
Some 76% of more than 1,000 GPs questioned for a poll said between one and five patients a day attend their surgery due to loneliness.
Some of the doctors had even higher rates of lonely patients - with 11% saying they saw up to 10 patients a day who they think are lonely.
Some 4% of doctors said they saw more than 10 lonely patients on an average day.
Almost half (49%) of the doctors questioned said they were not confident they had the tools necessary to help their lonely patients, with only 13% thinking they could really help.
The poll was carried out for the Campaign to End Loneliness.
Its director, Kate Jopling, said: "Far too many people are feeling so lonely - and are so at a loss about what to do about it - that they end up going to see their doctor.
"It's time we committed to a more co-ordinated public health response that targets resources towards better support for lonely people, and prevention of loneliness for those at risk.
"I know that many doctors will feel frustrated at not being able to help their patients but there are things they can do.
"There are many schemes, both public and voluntary, that can help lonely older people and the first step for doctors should be to signpost these to patients."
Figures suggest almost three million people over 65 are lonely.
About a fifth of older people say they are sometimes lonely, and between 6% and 13% say they are always lonely.