Barriers to self care caused by NHS structures and risk-averse culture

Published on: 20 November 2019


To mark Self Care Week, PAGB, the consumer healthcare association, has published an analysis of the barriers preventing wider adoption of self care policies and identifies current NHS structures and a risk-averse culture as key challenges that need to be overcome.

During a recent PAGB roundtable with healthcare professional representatives, participants noted the risk averse culture in the NHS, which encourages clinicians to follow rigid and inflexible pathways that result in a transactional relationship with patients. People themselves are also risk averse, often opting to visit the GP ‘just in case’ their symptoms are the sign of a more serious condition.

NHS structures and IT systems also act as barriers to more joined up working, preventing the easy sharing of patient records and supporting referrals between different professionals.

PAGB’s analysis looks at three policy initiatives which would support and empower more people to self care but have not yet been widely implemented. It examines the potential barriers to implementation and highlights case studies where local innovation has overcome these.





John Smith, PAGB Chief Executive, said:

“The benefits of self care have been widely accepted, supporting people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing gives them faster access to advice and effective treatment and reduces unnecessary demand on GP and A&E services. Yet despite this, the NHS has been slow to adopt policies that would support more people to self care.

“It is clear from our analysis that when local healthcare professionals work together, the barriers to self care can be overcome. Renewed effort is needed to expand these areas of best practice across the country so PAGB is calling on the next Government to introduce a National Strategy for Self Care and provide the national leadership needed to unlock behaviour change and empower local areas to maximise opportunities to self care across their populations.”

Barriers to Self Care media release
Overcoming the barriers to self care (Report)

An analysis of the barriers preventing wider adoption of self care policies and how these could be overcome.