British Lung Foundation
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Does the British 'stiff upper lip' stop us asking for help earlier?

Good Afternoon Everybody

Foe those of you in areas where the wind has been bad i hope it hasn't affected your breathing too much.

The following link is for an article on the BBC website about how the reason why Britain falls behind other countries in it's cancer care may be down to feeling embarrased about our symptoms or not wanting to waste the doctor's time!

What do you think?

Best Wishes


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6 Replies

There may be some truth, but that hasn't stopped me or my husband as neither of us think of doctors as Gods. That can be part of the problem

I know it seems to be based on some serious research, but I do wonder whether its trying to hide some serious failings within our health service.

Lynne xx

Hi Jo, I think there may be some truth in the "stiff upper lip" theory. My mum was a nursing sister all her working life and when she was ill, would she ask questions of the doctors and consultants, no! She had the respect she'd been taught to have (back in the day) and was even at that stage still slightly in awe of them. I think a lot people are the same way, and you have to admit, some doctors/consultants do present themselves as "higher beings", but thankfully these days the majority don't. I found it all became very easy to talk to them as an equal when I realised I was so much older than most of them! A rare case when age is useful! Also, I do think people are afraid of being ill and hope any symptoms they have will go away. I have to admit that I've done this myself a while ago, and thankfully the symptoms did go away. Not a recommended course of action, but I think a lot of us do this. Libby


Yes i certainly think that sometimes we hope the problem goes away and if we don't go to the doctor the problem dosen't really exist.

It can be quite daunting as well talking to some doctors maybe that puts people off.

Libby, the age is a good tip to remind us we are qual though!

Have a lovely evening.


It is a subject that needs addressing.I will be bringing it up at my next PPG meeting.

I have always been of the nature if I need it I will yell for it, if it is concerning medical treatment, and boy have I yelled. But apart from a smashing GP and excellent dermatology nurses, I don't yell any more. Why? My form of Asthma is complex and apart from specialist centres isn't understood at a local level, twice I have had to seek help from emergency services and A & E in the past two weeks, and twice despite my explanations I have failed to secure the proper treatment to get me back on form. Hence my recent blogs about sofa surfing! If I had just been listened too and not treated as just another patient with no personal identity I might well be a lot better now. I have fought this war for so many years now, that it is not worth the heartache and upset to ask for help any more outside of my GP/Dermatology Nurses. Because when you do you get labelled at awkward. So now I find it easier to suffer in silence until I hit crisis point. Health Care Practitioners need to improve their communication skills, then maybe patients would have more confidence in coming forward.

Working in an extremely busy pharmacy, a high number of patients come in, often complaining/moaning etc about their surgery and/or GP. I've lost count of the times I have mentioned that they are well within their rights to change practice and majority don't because they either think it is too much hassle or maybe it will go against them in a way. So if alot of people don't have a good relationship with their GP's then they will be less willing to discuss things with them.

Some GP's do make people feel like they are wasting their time and also what I find happens regularly is appointments over run and when you do eventually get to see your GP, they hurry you up and you feel less likely to open up. That is if you can get an appointmnet with your GP of choice in the first place.

The 'stiff upper lip' mentality is still there somewhat, I think with the more 'mature' generation (not wanting to offend lol) in a way that you just get on with things and don't like to 'bother' the doctor.

From a personal point of view I strongly believe that 'we' do not take ownership of our medicinal needs and we need to realise that it is our body and when we fall ill we have a right to be taken seriously by the medical professionals and treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. Doctors cannot and must not get complacent and should offer the best service and customer care to every patient on every occassion not just now and again.

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