ALMOST a third of people in Somerset and the rest of the South West seek medical advice online rather than seeing their GP about a health concern, a survey reveals.

Diabetes UK, which commissioned the YouGov poll of more than 2,000 adults, said it also emerged that a four out of five respondents in the region would not feel comfortable speaking to an employer about health concerns.

And while four-fifths of people in the South West would be comfortable talking about a friend or loved one’s health, only 68 per cent would want to talk to friends or loved ones about their own health.

Diabetes UK is urging people with diabetes to have honest, open conversations about their condition with healthcare professionals, friends and family.

Annika Palmer, Diabetes UK South West regional head, said: "Talking about diabetes can be hard. But for someone living with the condition, or caring for someone who does, it can mean getting the right treatment, ensuring your rights are protected at work, or making sure your child gets the best care at school.

"That’s why being able to talk about diabetes, and having people to talk to about the condition, is so important.

"We want to help people live better with diabetes by giving them tools and tips to start tricky conversations and get the support they really need.

"Finding information online about diabetes can be tricky too - and risky if you don’t know where to start.

"We’d recommend using the Diabetes UK website or our helpline if you want to be signposted to expert advice about living with or managing any aspect of diabetes."

Diabetes UK has produced a list of top tips to encourage people with diabetes to have conversations with their healthcare professional team they may have been avoiding.

It includes: •Diabetes is complicated and different for everyone. There’s no such thing as a silly question. So don’t be afraid to ask about whatever’s on your mind.

•It will help if you go to your appointment with some questions in mind. You could write them down or send them to your healthcare team beforehand.

•This time is for you, so let your healthcare team know what you’d like to talk about from the start.

•Sometimes you’ll have more to talk about and you might need more time. If you can, book a double appointment so you don’t have to rush.

•There might be things you feel uncomfortable talking about. But your healthcare team is there to help, so be honest and make the most of their medical expertise.