Tough times mean GPs must back self care

GPs must become advocates of self care in the shadow of 'stark' choices facing the NHS, the chairman of the NHS Alliance has said.

Dr Michael Dixon: NHS faces stark choices and patients need support
Dr Michael Dixon: NHS faces stark choices and patients need support

Dr Michael Dixon said the Self Care Campaign, launched in March 2010 to promote and encourage patients to safely self care, had made ‘real progress’ so far.

Speaking on its first anniversary, he called on more GPs to give patients good advice on when and how to look after themselves, and when to visit the GP.

Dr Dixon said: ‘Increasingly there are stark choices to be made around healthcare. We need to make sure patients feel empowered and supported by us so they can make informed and responsible decisions.’

Experts had previously called on GPs to help break patients’ ‘cycle of dependency’ on the NHS when they develop minor ailments, which currently cost £2bn per year.

The Self Care Campaign is made up of primary care professionals from bodies such as the NHS Alliance, National Association of Primary Care and the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB).

In the past year, the campaign has also seen support from other health professional and patient participation groups.

Dr Dixon predicted self care advice would become common in general practice. ‘Looking at the future for self care, I think that this high level of participation from our healthcare organisations and patient representative groups will perpetuate the embedding of self care in every aspect of general practice,’ he said.

Gopa Mitra, director of health policy and public affairs at the PAGB, said: ‘We hope that the momentum we’ve built will continue into an upsurge of activity at local, regional and national levels.’

In November last year, GP revealed that GPs will be offered a training course to support patients to self care. An RCGP e-learning module will be piloted in 2011 with a final course ready by 2012.

Meanwhile, a recent report by MPs suggested the QOF should encourage GPs to promote self-care in consultations.

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