Schools 'should promote self-care' argues former GPC chairman

Young people must be educated about how and when to use NHS services as part of the nat­ional curriculum, a former GPC chairman has argued.

Dr Chisholm: calling for changes in the school curriculum to promote self-care (Photograph: Solent News)
Dr Chisholm: calling for changes in the school curriculum to promote self-care (Photograph: Solent News)

Dr John Chisholm, a principal architect of the 2004 GMS contract, said better self-care education could cut GP consultations for minor ailments. Currently 57m such consultations take place each year, costing the NHS an estimated £2bn.

Dr Chisholm called for chan­ges to the curriculum in res­ponse to a government review of personal, social, health and economics education.

Improved education about health behaviours could help cut NHS costs for long-term conditions, he said.

‘There is clear evidence of the cost-effe­ctiveness of an evidence-based programme of health education in schools,’ he said.

However, a major cultural shift would be needed to change behaviour, he warned.

‘Both health education in schools and that component of health education relating to self-care require consistent infor­mation, education, encouragement and support and also cult­ural change involving teachers, students, parents and healthcare professionals,’ he said.

‘Consistency in information and education must be delivered at a national and local level.’

Dr Chisholm submitted a res­ponse to the review on beh­alf of the Self Care Forum, other members of which inc­lude NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon and RCGP revali­dation lead Professor Mike Pringle.

Dr Chisholm also argued that the national curriculum should cover the relative risks of beh­aviours and improving health through lifestyle education.

He said young people should become a reliable source of health information for their families and peers.

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