Self-Care Week: Why You Don’t Need To See A GP This Winter

Posted on Nov 15 2017 - 12:42pm by Samantha Clark
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Are we part of a society that expects instant remedy from minor ailments? It’s never nice to feel unwell and sure, we all would love an instant cure. But despite the numerous technological advances, this isn’t on the horizon. We’re human at the end of the day and we will, from time to time catch colds, flu and stomach upsets. It is inevitable. However, these considerably, for most, minor ailments are what is seemingly causing staggering delays for most GP surgeries.

The cost just to be seen by an A&E doctor is £124

Staggeringly 32% of people visited the doctor last year for seasonal conditions such as sore throats, with 1 in 10 exaggerating their symptoms to receive a same day appointment. In most cases, such conditions could have been resolved with a conversation with the pharmacist in the first instance. In addition, research commissioned by PAGB found that 15% of people went to the GP at least once for Norovirus, a stomach bug, in the past year; an equivalent to 10 million visit, despite NHS advising people to stay at home and avoid surgeries and hospitals because of the risk to others.

It isn’t just GP surgeries affected, PAGB have found that 3.7 million A&E visits were for conditions that could have been managed by a pharmacist. The cost just to be seen by an A&E doctor is £124. The most common of these conditions included: coughs, constipation, ear problems, colds, small burns, muscular pain and broken fingernails.

the average wait time to see a GP is 2 weeks and the average wait time at A&E is 4 hours. To see a pharmacist you’ll generally wait minutes and no appointment is necessary.

John Smith, Chief Executive of PAGB said, “Our latest research adds to the weight of evidence that shows people are still misusing NHS services for self-treatable conditions. This really needs to change. With peak cold and flu season now upon us, it is crucial people have a better understanding of when they should visit their GP or A&E, and when advice and treatment from a local pharmacist would be more appropriate. This would save the individual time and could also free up an appointment for someone who really needs it.”

The NHS guide to conditions is an excellent resource to get further background information on a particular condition with helpful advice on self-management. But if you’re looking for more prescribed guidance, in the first instance we should discuss our concerns with a local pharmacist; they’re highly trained professionals who can offer a breadth of advice on the most common conditions and even advise you further on more complex matters, especially concerning any prescribed or existing medication.

Why visit a pharmacist?

  • To become a pharmacist you need a minimum of 5 years training- to practice as a pharmacist you must have a master’s degree in pharmacy
  • 90% have private consultation rooms to allow you to discuss your concerns discreetly
  • 900 community pharmacies are open for 100 hours a week (that’s 59% of the time)
  • Convenient opening times- with many opening late into the night
  • Access to wider healthcare services
  • Expert advice on the high street
  • They can advise on how to manage and medicate self-treatable conditions
  • They can help with your repeat prescriptions
  • Provide you with flu vaccinations
  • Save yourself time: the average wait time to see a GP is 2 weeks and the average wait time at A&E is 4 hours. To see a pharmacist you’ll generally wait minutes and no appointment is necessary.

Hemant Patel, Community Pharmacist, comments, “With the majority of people (57%) rating speed of recovery as the most important factor when it comes to their health, the research findings highlight the need for greater awareness of the benefits community pharmacies can offer to them. With most people living within 20 minutes travel time from their closest pharmacy, visiting a trusted pharmacist for a self-treatable condition is often quicker and more convenient than visiting the GP, especially as you don’t need an appointment.”

To become a pharmacist you need a minimum of 5 years training- to practice as a pharmacist you must have a master’s degree in pharmacy

John Smith continues, “A wide range of OTC medicines, available from pharmacies, supermarkets and other retail outlets, can provide short-term relief from the symptoms of many self-treatable conditions, such as colds and stomach upsets. People who don’t feel confident in choosing an appropriate medicine for themselves can speak to a pharmacist who can provide expert self-care advice. Pharmacists can identify when symptoms need to be assessed by a doctor and will signpost you to other NHS services (e.g. GP, Out of Hours services or A&E) as needed. Pharmacists will also provide advice and support on a range of health and wellbeing areas.”

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