BMA urges patients to self-care

A WINTER poster campaign by the BMA is urging people to self-care when appropriate rather than visit their local GP or A&E.

The posters have been distributed to GP practices across the UK and carry the slogans “We needn’t be your first stop” and “It’s going to be a busy winter…help up help you”. They are part of a long-term, integrated approach to ease patient care pressures that are set to put the NHS under exceptional strain this winter.

In a new briefing paper, Beating the Effects of Winter Pressures, the BMA says it is possible to create a health system that is sufficiently robust to react to the additional demands placed on services during the winter but this will require the government to take a much longer-term approach to addressing these pressures.

The posters are also available to download on the BMA website.

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of the BMA’s Scottish General Practice Committee, said:"GP practices across Scotland and the rest of the UK are bracing themselves for what will no doubt be another busy winter as illnesses associated with the cold weather drive up demand on appointments and home visits. GPs and practices are already working hard to prepare, for example immunising older and at risk patients against flu, but as with previous years we expect this winter to be tough.

"This does not mean that GPs want to turn people away. Everyone who needs to see their GP will be seen. But we also understand that sometimes an appointment may not be required, which is why we want to encourage people to choose the right option for them, such as treating their symptoms or seeking the advice of a local pharmacist who can help treat colds and flu.

"It is important that people are aware of the options available to them and the importance that self-care or a visit to a pharmacist can have on reducing the increasing winter pressures on GPs and the wider NHS so that, if symptoms do persist or if you are worried, you can more easily contact your GP practice."