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NHS campaign aims to reduce GP appointments for minor ailments

The NHS has begun a summer campaign to encourage patients to self-care rather than visit their GP for coughs, sniffles and even dandruff.

The campaign – fronted by the National Self Care Forum – has produced a flyer, information for mobile phones and a colouring competition to encourage patients to think about self care.

The ‘Choose Well' campaign will also carry out a survey to find out why patients choose to go to a GP surgery or A&E rather than their pharmacist, and will use this information to encourage more self-care.

The NSCF claims over 50 million GP visits per year could be avoided if members of the public were more aware of self-care options for minor problems.

NHS figures obtained by the forum show 5.2 million GP visits annually for blocked noses, 40,000 visits for dandruff while a further 20,000 people visit their local surgery for travel sickness.

It said the unnecessary visits count for almost one in five appointments, draining resources from caring for older, chronically-ill people, and having a knock-on effect of placing A&E and emergency departments under further pressure.

Dr Paul Stillman, a GP in Crawley and a member of the National Self Care Forum, said: ‘We are not saying that people should not go to see their GP or use their A&E, emergency and 999 services if they believe they are seriously ill.'

‘We need to understand how we can encourage them to help themselves for common problems."

‘51.4 million GP appointments a year in England and Wales are for minor ailments alone, if we can encourage more people to self-care for common complaints, we can re-focus resources on people who really need them.'

The NHS patient survey is available here. It will close on 30 July and the results will be published in the autumn.