The Government has published a White Paper setting out plans to change the way the NHS is managed, with the aim of joining up health and care services and embedding lessons learned during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Michelle Riddalls, Chief Executive of PAGB, the consumer healthcare association, said:
“We support the Government’s ambition both to integrate more effectively the different parts of our health system and to build on the positive changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We urge the Government to ensure that its reforms facilitate the implementation of policies that encourage and embed self care, at both local and national level.
“We have long argued, for example, that an enhanced role for community pharmacy teams, along with moves to ingrain them into primary care pathways, would enable them to better support people to manage their own health and wellness.
“We know from our own research that many individuals have become more receptive to the idea of self care during the pandemic, and more likely to seek the expert advice of pharmacy teams to help them treat minor ailments without unnecessary recourse to a GP.
“Almost seven out of ten people (69%) who might not have considered self care as their first option before the pandemic told us they were more likely to do so in future, while 31% who would not have visited a pharmacy for advice before seeking help elsewhere said they were more likely to do so following the pandemic.
“This is a positive shift that can help to safeguard NHS resources into the future, ensuring that GP appointments and A&E teams are available for those most in need of expert medical help.
“Self care and maintaining wellness also have an important role to play in accelerating progress towards some of the key goals set out by the Government, including a reduction in health inequalities and improved health outcomes.
“We would urge the Government to help cement these changing attitudes by creating a national self care strategy – as proposed in our own Self Care White Paper – as a central plank of these NHS reforms.”