Many professionals are struggling to fit GP appointments around the demands of their jobs, a study has found.

Out of 2,000 workers surveyed by AIG Life Limited, more than half (52 per cent) said they have had to cancel or change doctor appointments because of work.

NHS data shows more than 15 million appointments with GPs, nurses, therapists and other practice staff - around one in 20 appointments - are wasted each year as people don't turn up or cancel at the last minute.

Nearly six out of ten (59 per cent) employees say they feel guilty about attending appointments during work as colleagues have to cover for them.

And just two out of five (41 per cent) say they find it easy to take time off work to get to medical appointments.

But 45 per cent said they work far away from their GP surgery, so find it nearly impossible to get there during the opening hours.

Workers say it is not their employers' fault. 72 per cent say their bosses are flexible about time off for appointments, and two out of five workers (39 per cent) say their GP offers times outside of normal working hours.

Alison Esson, propositions manager at AIG Life, commented: “The cost of cancelled appointments is a drain on the NHS budget and causes real problems for GPs and their staff, despite efforts to be flexible. Yet we’re all so diligent about our jobs that people find it’s difficult to take time out of the working day to attend appointments because they worry about their workload and putting pressure on others.

“Coordinating busy lives with work pressure and appointment times can be a tough juggling act, with the inevitable risk that sometimes things get dropped. But technology can ease the strain. Video consultations with a GP, for example, can be a solution for many of us, which is where services such as Smart Health can be a very valuable additional service for customers.”

AIG Life has launched its Smart Health app to give patients 24-hour access to health services together with their protection insurance.