GPs inundated with trivial complaints

A new campaign has been launched to encourage people to seek help from their local pharmacy for less serious problems and ailments rather than taking a trip to visit their GP for trivial complaints about colds and dandruff. The National Self Care Forum are urging more self-care and management after latest NHS statistics show that a fifth of visits to GPs are unnecessary and are wasting doctors’ time, which could be spent dealing with more serious issues and this is causing a massive backlog for doctors.

Dr Paul Stillman, a GP in Crawley, West Sussex, and a member of the National Self Care Forum, said “What we think so far is that patients tend to use the same source of advice whatever the symptoms. So they’ll either go to their GP for everything, or always go to their pharmacist, or phone NHS Direct. We want to test this theory on a larger number of people to try and identify ways of getting them to alter their behaviour.”

Stephanie Varah, the chief executive of the National Association for Patient Participation, is the patient champion for the national Self Care Forum. She backed up Dr Stillman’s comments and said, “Empowering individuals to access and understand appropriate information that supports shared and informed decision making about treatment, self-care and lifestyle choices is key to helping people understand how they can better look after themselves.”

The NHS survey was conducted by analysing records from more than 200 GP surgeries around the country. Common complaints include problems such as blocked noses and dandruff. Of the 51.4 million GP visits across both England and Wales, this is equating to 5.2 million that could have easily been avoided if patients had maybe tried effective over the counter products that do not require a prescription from their doctor.

It was calculated that a staggering 40,000 people see their doctor because they are concerned about dandruff. Nizoral Anti-Dandruff shampoo and Neutrogena T-Gel Therapeutic shampoo are just two products patients can buy to combat dandruff, without ever needing to take a trip to their doctor and both wasting their time and the doctors’. The survey also revealed that 20,000 people take the time to see their GP about travel sickness. A simple search on the internet might have helped to reveal that inexpensive products such as Kwells or Avomine are highly effective in helping with this problem – and neither requires a prescription!

In addition, Medical Specialists Pharmacy is currently seeing a huge number of patients purchase products from our chemist shop for nasal problems. As we reported earlier this month, the hay fever season looks set to last longer than usual and this has resulted in many people stocking up on Loratadine tablets, which can help with annoyances such as skin rashes, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose and itching. These are all common problems that have helped amass the 5.2 million needless GP visits.  We have also seen a surge in the requests for Nasonex nasal spray to help treat sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and nasal itching due to allergies (known medically as allergic rhinitis). This can be obtained following a private and confidential online consultation with one of our doctors.

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