A Harrogate GP has welcomed the Local Government Association’s (LGA) decision to highlight the number of unnecessary GP appointments taken by patients wanting treatment for coughs and colds, indigestion, bad backs, travel sickness and dandruff.
The LGA who represent 370 councils in England and Wales are calling on patients to consider visiting a local pharmacy, supermarket or using NHS websites before booking a GP appointment. They suggest that of all the GP appointments almost one in ten are taken by patients complaining of a blocked nose, a condition that can be treated by over the counter medication from a pharmacy or supermarket without the need for a doctor’s appointment.
Dr Rick Sweeney, the Lead for Vulnerable People at Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
I support the LGA in highlighting this problem GP Practices across the country face on a daily basis particularly as we enter the winter months. Our GPs and A&E departments are already overstretched yet many appointments are often unnecessary. A large number of conditions a GP sees at their Practice can be treated by over the counter medication, freeing up much needed appointments for those patients who really need them. If people were able to treat these common ailments, each GP in the NHS would have approximately 6 additional appointments available every day to treat those patients in need of medical help.
The NHS needs to work on building patient confidence to look after their own minor illnesses and educate patients about which over the counter medication should be used rather than them making a GP appointment. Many patients will find that their GP recommends they go and purchase an over the counter medicine anyway.