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  • Self Care Week picks up publics frustrations around GP appointments

    Self Care Week picks up publics frustrations around GP appointments

    Tuesday, 14 November 2017 18:58
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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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a lady pharmacist talking to patient cbNovember 14 2017

One in ten people says they are driven to exaggerate symptoms in order to get a same-day GP appointment, which they may not actually need. In addition, 76% of people say they are frustrated about how long it takes to see a GP for a consultation, with nearly 10% waiting around three weeks.

The figures have been issued at the start of this year’s Self Care Week which runs from November 13-19. The week coincides with World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

The survey of 2,000 people was conducted in October for PAGB, the OTC manufacturers’ trade body. It also found that 32% of people have seen a GP in the past year for conditions like a cold, which a pharmacist would be better placed to treat and be more convenient for the individual.

In addition, 74% of people said they worry that misuse of GP and A&E services for self-treatable conditions means the NHS will be harder to access when they really need it.

PAGB defines self care as “the actions people take for themselves and their families to promote and maintain good health and wellbeing and to take care of their self-treatable conditions.”

The study found that “15% of people went to the GP at least once for Norovirus in the past year, equivalent to nearly 10 million visits, despite the NHS advising people to stay at home and avoid the doctor’s surgery because of the risk to others. This is a concern which is echoed by a third of those (37%) surveyed, who worry about picking up an infection from other sick people while visiting the GP.”

Asked for ways which could encourage more people to visit their pharmacist first for advice on self-treatable conditions, the survey found:

  • 49% would be more likely to seek advice from a pharmacist instead of a GP for a self-treatable condition, if they knew how much time and money it would save them;
  • 24% believe better education about how to treat common conditions would make them more likely to visit a pharmacist instead of the GP;
  • 28% think more awareness about pharmacy training would help people feel more confident asking them for healthcare advice.

Commenting on the survey, John Smith, Chief Executive of PAGB said: “Our latest research adds to the weight of evidence that shows people are still misusing NHS services for self-treatable conditions. This really needs to change.

“With peak cold and flu season now upon us, it is crucial people have a better understanding of when they should visit their GP or A&E, and when advice and treatment from a local pharmacist would be more appropriate. This would save the individual time and could also free up an appointment for someone who really needs it.”

The National Pharmacy Association is promoting the Self Care Week awareness campaign. “Self care not only empowers the individual, it also reduces demand on the NHS. Self Care Week provides an opportunity for healthcare professionals and health organisations to talk to patients and the public about self care and explain how they can effectively look after their own health and help prevent avoidable conditions,” it said.

“As the country experiences a cold snap, it is an ideal time to start a conversation with people about self care, by reminding them about the best ways to treat common winter conditions, such as coughs and colds, and supporting those with long term conditions to be prepared for the winter.”

Links:
Self Care Forum                  
PAGB ‘Self Care Nation 2017’ announcement       
PAGB ‘Self Care Nation 2017’ infographic               
NPA statement  
World Antibiotic Awareness Week 

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