GPs urge patients to self-care through pandemic restrictions to relieve pressure on NHS

  • Half of all current appointments are for conditions patients can manage themselves, according to GPs
  • 95% of GPs often see patients with minor illnesses or injuries that could be managed at home
  • 67% are encouraging patients to take greater responsibility of their own health
  • 41% are urging patients to practise better self-care and only use NHS services when ‘absolutely necessary’

While many of us have had routine appointments or treatments delayed due to the pandemic, and others have refrained from visiting their GP for minor ailments, many local doctors surgeries are still overwhelmed with appointments – often for conditions that can be treated at home or with over-the-counter remedies.

GPs say half of all appointments they are currently dealing with are for conditions that could have been managed by patients themselves, according to a new survey of general practitioners for healthcare app Healthily.

As Covid restrictions continue and vaccination appointments ramp up, healthcare professionals are calling on the public to be mindful of their use of NHS resources and self-care where possible.

The findings of a recent survey, commissioned by self-care app Healthily shows that two thirds (67%) of GPs are urging patients to take greater responsibility for their own health, while a further 41% would urge patients to practise better self-care and stay away from the doctors unless ‘absolutely necessary’, in order to ease the pressure of their current workload.

The common cold tops the list of conditions GPs are encouraging people to self-manage (60%), followed by cold sores (47%), insect bites (45%), simple sprains (45%) and dandruff (44%).

Self-care is classified as an action an individual takes to support their own physical or mental health. Around 1 in 5 GP appointments are for minor ailments including headaches, heartburn or a blocked nose, which  people can treat themselves. Minor conditions are responsible for 57 million GP visits and 3.7 million A&E admissions every year, costing the NHS over £2 billion1.

According to the latest data from Healthily, since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, more than 1 in 10 (12%) of us have been turning to healthcare apps or websites for advice and support instead of accessing NHS services.

To help us take better ownership of our health and self-care, Healthily is the world’s first clinically approved personalised self-care app. Designed by doctors, it uses advanced AI to help people assess, track and manage their health, bringing medical knowledge out of the clinic and into your own hands.

Professor Maureen Baker, Chief Medical Officer at Healthily and former Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners comments:

“A considerable proportion of GP consultations are taken up by minor self-limiting conditions that could be managed at home.  
 
Of course, I’d always urge people to visit their doctor if they feel they need to, but self-care app Healthily supports people in their decision as to whether they need to visit their doctor, or whether it is a condition that can be managed at home. 
 
There is a whole range of minor self-limiting conditions, like cold sores, back pain, dandruff, minor indigestion, hay fever, which can be managed by over the counter medicine or lifestyle advice, and the Healthily app provides personalised advice and clinically accredited information targeted specifically at your needs.
 
You can find out more by searching for the Healthily app or going to livehealthily.com.”

About the Censuswide survey commissioned by Healthily:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Censuswide. Total sample size was 2,200 adults and 100 GPs  Fieldwork was undertaken in October 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighed  and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Other reference:

  1. https://www.localgov.co.uk/Millions-of-GP-appointments-unnecessary-and-cost-billions/41987

About Healthily:

Healthily is the world’s first medically approved self-care platform designed around you. Combining responsive  AI with trusted insights and tools, we match your personal needs to the latest information from doctors and  healthcare specialists. So you can understand your health and take the next step with confidence, wherever you  are. Used by millions of people all over the world, Healthily’s pioneering approach to online clinical safety has  attracted the support of leading investors and health organisations.