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a pharmacy otc imageJanuary 2 2018

The RCGP’s new ‘3 before GP’ winter pressures campaign is asking patients to search online for symptoms and to self-care if possible.

Launched on December 29, the campaign asks patients to consider three questions before booking an appointment with their GP:

“Can I:

  • self-care?
  • use NHS Choices or similar reputable websites/resources?
  • seek advice/treatment via a pharmacist?”

The College said it “hopes that this simple slogan will encourage patients to think hard about whether they need to see a GP during another busy winter period for general practice – or if they can deal with the problem in a different way.” Research by the Primary Care Foundation in 2015 claimed that 27% of GP consultations were potentially avoidable.

RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “GPs are under immense pressures all year round, but, as we know, the colder months bring additional challenges. Not being able to get an appointment is frustrating for both patients and GPs, but there are a variety of alternatives to consider first and I would encourage patients with more minor illnesses to think hard about whether they actually need to see a GP.

“The ‘3 before GP’ mantra is a simple and easy way to help reduce the strain on general practice, and we hope it will enable GPs to spend more time with patients who have complex health issues and are most in need of our expert help.”

She added: “We’re used to pharmacists dispensing prescribed medication or being somewhere we go to buy over the counter medication but it is easy to forget what a brilliant source of advice and wisdom they can offer the population which is why we can include them in this list.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has lent its backing to the campaign. Interviewed on BBC Radio Wiltshire, RPS spokesperson Neal Patel said: “Pharmacists are the experts on medicines and can help people with both questions about winter bugs as well as concerns about side effects of prescription medicines.

“Crucially, pharmacists can help you decide when that worrying symptom is something you can manage yourself or when you should seek help, which is especially important over the holidays when your GP surgery may be closed.”

Links:
RCGP announcement     
RPS comment

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