More than a third of people in Britain might delay seeing a doctor over symptoms they think could be serious because of difficulty making an appointment, a study has revealed.

In the new survey, from Cancer Research UK, difficulty in making an appointment was the number one reason given for delaying a visit to the doctor.

It was mentioned by 39 per cent of respondents, and was cited as a possible reason for delaying a doctor's visit more often than worry about what the doctor might find (32 per cent) and wasting the doctor's time (24 per cent).

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK Director of Early Diagnosis said the fact that people appeared to be less scared, embarrased or worried about what their GP might find, and more knowledgeable about cancer symptoms, suggested awareness campaigns had made real progress.

However, she said the results regarding difficulty making appointments were concerning: "Although these results suggest a shift away from emotional barriers to visiting the GP, it's concerning to think that something as simple as making a doctor's appointment could be putting people off seeking help for a serious symptom. 

"Further work is now needed to find out what lies at the heart of this issue for example whether people dislike not being able to see the same GP, appointment times do not suit or if the booking system is too complicated."