Public advised to use alternatives to GP services

January 2nd, 2018
Public advised to use alternatives to GP services

The Royal College of GPs has advised the public to consider using alternative services before making a GP appointment.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that GP services are stretched to the limit at this time of year and encouraged patients who feel under the weather to consider other options before picking up the phone and calling their GP surgery. Often, seeing a pharmacist or even using a reliable source of information online can provide a satisfactory solution. Research suggests that even if 5% of people chose not to visit their GP, this would equate to a saving of 50,000 appointments.

Prof Stokes-Lampard suggests that up to 25 percent of appointments could be avoided by using alternative measures, such as seeing a pharmacist. To prevent unnecessary appointments and free up slots for patients in genuine need, the organisation recommends a 3-step protocol, which urges patients to stop and think about whether they really need to see a GP. The first step would be to see if you can remedy the situation yourself, for example, by taking an over the counter remedy, such as paracetamol, and getting rest for a cold. The second would be to seek advice online and the third would be to see a pharmacist. Many pharmacies offer a wide range of services and staff have training and knowledge to provide tailored advice. Online sources recommended by the body include the NHS Choices website.

Speaking in a radio interview, Prof Stokes-Lampard was keen to ensure that people should see a GP if they need to, and insisted that GPs are there to help. However, many appointments could be avoided and therefore, it’s beneficial for patients to think about whether they could use alternative options before calling their GP.

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