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Keep minor illness out of hospital - campaign

Monday January 20th, 2014

A major national campaign has been launched aiming to encourage the public to take better care of minor illnesses and cut pressure on hospitals.

NHS England wants people to use pharmacies rather than GPs for a range of minor illnesses.

The campaign was launched as hospital emergency services continue to struggle with high numbers of patients and bed shortages.

In its 'The Earlier, The Better' campaign, NHS England says the public can nip health problems in the bud and avoid unnecessary stays in hospital.

It plans to run the campaign for eight weeks in a bid to help reduce winter pressures on hospitals.

Director for acute care Professor Keith Willett said: "As a clinician who has spent some 30 years working in the urgent care system I am really pleased to see a serious attempt to reach out to the public on this issue. 

"We see in our hospitals so many people who have not had or sought the help they need early enough.  We have to do better at helping people stay well, not just picking up the pieces when they fall seriously ill.

"Too many people make the mistake of soldiering on, losing the opportunity to nip things in the bud.  Unfortunately this can lead to an unnecessary stay in hospital, particularly for the more frail elderly and those with long-term conditions."

The campaign was backed by the British Medical Association, which has been running a similar campaign in GP surgeries.

BMA GP committee chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: "If a patient feels they need to access NHS services they should do so, but it is often the case where an individual can safely treat their own minor conditions or ailments, for example by visiting a pharmacist for non-prescription medication, rather than having the inconvenience of making an unnecessary GP appointment and then sitting in a waiting room with other sick patients.

"This will not only relieve pressure on GP practices, but enable GPs to provide better access to their patients."

NHS England deputy chief executive Dr Barbara Hakin said emergency admissions to hospitals last week continued at "historically high levels."

In addition hospitals continued to struggle to free beds by discharging patients.

She said: “Overall, the NHS is currently performing relatively well for the time of year but I stress that there is still a lot of winter to run. It also clear that lots of organisations are having to work extremely hard to stay ahead of the pressures."

Tags: Flu & Viruses | NHS | UK News

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