BMA winter campaign urges patients to self care at home

Posters distributed to practices will urge patients with colds and sore throats to treat themselves rather than visit their GP, as part of a BMA campaign to reduce winter pressure on primary care.

Self care: patients with colds urged to stay at home
Self care: patients with colds urged to stay at home

All UK practices will receive copies of the posters, which tell patients with minor illnesses to self care or visit a pharmacy rather than attend their local surgery or A&E department this winter.

The posters, designed for practice waiting rooms, tell patients the surgery ‘needn’t be your first stop’, and that ‘it’s going to be a busy winter… help us to help you’.

They remind patients to make sure they order prescription medication in time for the Christmas period, that antibiotics are not needed for colds and flu, and that a pharmacist can also give advice and treatment.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said GPs were braced for a tough winter and patients needed to be aware of the effect self care can have on reducing winter pressure on practices and A&E.

But the campaign ‘does not mean GPs want to turn their patients away’, he said.

‘GP practices across the UK are bracing themselves for what will no doubt be another busy winter as illnesses associated with the cold weather drive up demand on appointments and home visits,’ he said.

‘Every patient who needs to see their GP will be seen. But we also understand that sometimes an appointment may not be required, which is why we want to empower them to choose the right option, such as treating their symptoms or seeking the advice of a local pharmacist who can help treat colds and flu.’

Customisable versions of the posters are also available.

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