In response to the new guidance launched by NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners, John Smith, Chief Executive said:
“PAGB believes it is important to empower people to self care to help to reduce the number of unnecessary GP consultations and A&E visits* for conditions that could be treated at home, or with advice from a pharmacist. Therefore, we welcome the ambition that NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners have outlined within the guidance to encourage more people to self care.
“NHS services are overstretched and it’s important that limited resources are used in the most effective way to help the NHS save money and free up GP’s time to deal with more serious concerns. However, PAGB believes that simply restricting healthcare professionals’ ability to prescribe, without offering support to empower people to self care, could result in more GP appointments from people confused as to how to treat their symptoms. That’s why we have been calling for a national strategy for self care to provide the leadership and policy co-ordination necessary to support this behaviour change.
“Supporting people to self care for minor illnesses is essential for the future sustainability of the NHS, both in terms of reducing costs and demand as well as ensuring people are seen by the right healthcare professional at the right time.”
* There are an estimated 57 million GP consultations and 3.7 million visits to A&E every year for minor illnesses, costing the NHS an estimated £2.3 billion[2,3].