Bid to cut unnecessary GP visits

By Caroline Price

The NHS has launched a national survey to investigate why people go to their doctor about common ailments, as part of a campaign aimed at cutting down on unnecessary GP appointments.

The Choose Well campaign, being run in collaboration with the National Self Care Forum (NSCF), aims to raise awareness of self care through flyers, mobile links, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and even a colouring book aimed at primary school children.

According to a study conducted in 2007, more than 51 million people per year visit their GP with minor problems that will either resolve on their own or with an over-the-counter remedy. Indeed, up to 40,000 visits per year are for dandruff and "a staggering" 5.2 million for blocked noses, the Forum claims in a press statement.

NHS chiefs fear that this means resources are being drained from caring for older, chronically ill people and putting more pressure on emergency care providers. The survey (click here) aims to find out why people choose their GP over a pharmacist in order to inform ways to encourage more self care.

Dr Peter Stillman, a GP in Crawley and NSCF member, said: "We need to understand how we can encourage them to help themselves for common problems... If we can encourage more people to self-care for common complaints, we can refocus resources on people who really need them".

Stephanie Varah, Chief Executive of the National Association for Patient Participation and patient champion for the NSCF 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."

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