GPs cut workload by training patients to manage demand

Lancashire GPs plan to cut demand on GP services and A&E by educating patients about treating minor ailments.

Dr David Wrigley: 'If we can change the way people access the NHS, we can free GPs to see more patients' (Photograph: P Hill)
Dr David Wrigley: 'If we can change the way people access the NHS, we can free GPs to see more patients' (Photograph: P Hill)

Practices across the whole of Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which covers 150,000 patients, will implement the scheme and measure its impact over a year.

Lancashire GP Dr David Wrigley, a member of the CCG’s executive, told GP that initiatives like this would be cru­cial to ensuring the NHS can survive financially.

‘Demand is rising and it is going to continue to rise,’ he said. ‘We need to use resources wisely so we can direct them best for patient benefit.

‘If we can change the way people access the NHS, we can free GPs to see more patients.’

Dr Wrigley also believes that a locally focused campaign is more likely to have an impact than a top-down campaign.

‘Nationally driven prog­r­ammes don’t always get people on board,’ he said. ‘They are seen as a national directive.’

Red flags and medical advice
GPs will talk to patients about when they can manage symptoms themselves and when red flags should lead them to seek medical advice.

‘The scheme is trying to look at changing attitudes, to try to help patients self-care for their minor ailments,’ he said. ‘Often people seek advice from their practice or A&E, having only tried treating themselves for three or four days. We are trying to change that behaviour.’

He added: ‘It will make pat­ients more confident in dealing with their health and their families’ health.’

The CCG will be assessing the number of GP appointments for minor ailments over the course of the project. It will also measure admissions to A&E for minor ailments and prescriptions for medicines available OTC.

Dr Wrigley said the plans, which still need formal app­roval by CCG leaders, would be discussed at the next CCG board meeting.

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