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Patients urged to self care for minor ills

The UK's All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health has discussed measures to discourage visits to GPs for minor ailments

Politicians, healthcare professionals and key representatives from Government, patient organisations and the consumer healthcare industry, who make up the UK's All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health (APPG) met today to discuss ways of changing the culture of dependency within Primary Care.

Each year, GPs carry out over 57 million consultations involving minor illnesses such as coughs, colds and indigestion. Including GP time and prescriptions, this costs the taxpayer around £2bn.

Those present at the annual parliamentary reception discussed how addressing the culture of dependency would lead to significant savings within the NHS.

Dr Howard Stoate MP, chair of the APPG said that a two-pronged approach, beginning with training for GPs to assist them with communicating messages to patients encouraging self care. He pointed out that currently 91 per cent of consultations for minor ailments result in the GP writing a prescription. He suggested that this should be followed by both local and national public health campaigns that include information about how long the symptoms of these minor conditions last.

Stephen Hesford MP, secretary for the APPG, said: "The time is now right to educate and encourage patients to be more self reliant in dealing with their minor ill health and this has to happen in partnership with the doctor and the patient. However, unless people themselves engage in cultural change on a national scale it will not become a reality."

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health was established in 1998. Its role is to raise the profile of primary care and public health within Parliament; to speak within Parliament on behalf of both users and those working in the NHS; to place primary care and public health high on the Government's agenda and to inform debate by parliamentarians with outside bodies.

On November 17, 2009, a joint manifesto, from the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the 'London Declaration for Self Care', was launched.

9th December 2009

From: Healthcare

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