NHS campaign to tackle 50 million 'unnecessary' GP visits a year

A campaign to cut pressure on GP practices by encouraging patients to self care for minor ailments such as hayfever has been launched by NHS chiefs.

GP consultations: 50m a year may be unnecessary
GP consultations: 50m a year may be unnecessary

The NHS Choose Well Summer Campaign aims to educate patients to self care or visit their pharmacist for common health complaints, rather than attending A&E or visiting their GP.

The campaign, led by the National Self Care Forum, has also commenced a patient survey to understand why people visit their GP instead of attempting self care.

More than 51 million unnecessary GP visits occur each year, including 5.2 million for blocked noses and 40,000 for dandruff.

Crawley GP Dr Paul Stillman, a member of the National Self Care Forum, said: ‘We have a growing older population in England. More people are living longer with complex or long-term health conditions – this is great news for everyone, but it does mean we need to take steps so that we can focus more resources on these potentially vulnerable groups of people.

‘We are not saying that people should not go to see their GP or use their A&E, emergency and 999 services if they believe they are seriously ill. We need to understand how we can encourage them to help themselves for common problems.’

He said more self care would allow limited NHS resources to be used more effectively.

The campaign will use fliers, social media and a colouring competition for primary school aged children to learn about self care.

Since 2010, first attendances at A&E and emergency departments have risen by 16.5%.

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