GPs ‘overrun by coughs and sneezes’

GPs ‘overrun by coughs and sneezes’

GPs are spending nearly a fifth of their time treating minor ailments, according to a new report.

It says too many people are seeking medical help for coughs and colds, which is costing the UK’s health service nearly £2billion a year. The report by the Self-Care Campaign – funded by drugs companies selling over-the-counter medicines – says many people see their doctor out of convenience or dependency rather than need.

The report warns this trend is having a “catastrophic impact” on the NHS, with minor complaints accounting for 57 million consultations. It recommends a public information campaign to encourage people to take more responsibility for their health as well as more training for doctors and nurses on how they can help people treat themselves.

But the report adds that a move towards increased self-care “does not mean denying treatment to those who are sick but making sure that people receive the services they actually need." The report draws on research funded by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain – which represents manufacturers of over-the-counter medicine and food supplements in the UK. It highlighted the most common minor ailments that people seek help for, including back pain (8.4 million consultations), dermatitis (6.8 million), nasal congestion (5.3million) and coughs (2.6million).

he report, which urges political parties to get behind the campaign, has been welcomed by the BMA and the RCGP. RCGP president Professor Steve Field said: “Patients with long-term and complex conditions need more time with their GP to discuss their care and treatment options. We need to look at ways of encouraging a change in attitude towards the treatment of minor illnesses so that health care and services are properly directed at those most in need."

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