A new NHS survey is set to investigate the reasons why people head to the doctor instead of looking after themselves at home.
More than 51 million people a year visit their GP with minor problems that would clear up by themselves or with a little help from an over-the-counter remedy.
Up to 40,000 people a year visit their GP for dandruff, while a further 20,000 go to their local surgery for travel-sickness, and a staggering 5.2 million with blocked noses.
Health chiefs fear these unnecessary visits – almost one in five GP appointments are for very minor problems – are draining resources from caring for older, chronically-ill people, and having a knock-on effect of placing A&E and emergency departments under further pressure.
All kinds of minor illnesses and injuries, from colds to period pains, skin conditions to minor cuts, can be treated at home with advice and medicines from your local pharmacist.
If you’re unsure, you can also visit your local NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.
The NHS is surveying patients to find out why they choose the GP surgery or A&E over their pharmacist, ahead of work to encourage more self-care.
Dr Phil Jennings, Chair of the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have a growing older population in Wirral, with more people living longer. While this is good news, it also means there are more people with complex or long-term health conditions. We need to take steps so we can focus more resources on these potentially vulnerable people.
“We’re not saying people shouldn’t visit their GP or use 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.”
Stephanie Varah, Chief Executive of the National Association for Patient Participation, is the patient champion for the national Self Care Forum.
She said: “Empowering individuals to access and understand appropriate information that supports shared and informed decision making about treatment, self-care and lifestyle choices is key to helping people understand how they can better look after themselves.”
The survey is open until 30 July and is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/N8WQVTV
Copyright | Accessibility
© Wirral Primary Care Trust 2013