As Self Care Week (November 12-18) launches, the PAGB is urging for the NHS long-term plan to make self care training a key requirement for GPs and other healthcare professionals in order to improve health literacy and reduce pressures on the health service.
The PAGB says health literacy is poor in England, with between 43 and 61 per cent of working age adultsn “routinely” not understanding important information regarding their health. The PAGB claims this can have “damning impacts” for patient health and the NHS, as well as exacerbating health inequalities; poor health literacy is more common in disadvantaged groups, it says.
The trade body says its research shows a third of people (34 per cent) admit to visiting a GP rather than a pharmacist for self-treatable conditions. Altogether, the cost to the health service of seeing patients with self-treatable conditions – including GP appointments, A&E visits and OTC prescriptions – is an estimated £1.5bn, the PAGB says.
The PAGB points to a scheme in Manchester that has seen over 200 health and social care professionals complete self care training, with over 90 per cent reporting greater confidence in helping patients to self care.
The PAGB’s recommendations are set out in an interim white paper published in July this year.
PAGB chief executive John Smith said: “We believe that self care is not only the responsibility of the individual but also of healthcare professionals, who need to provide advice and information that people can easily understand to help them identify the right care for their condition. Training healthcare professionals to support people to self care will improve health literacy and ultimately reduce unnecessary demand on the NHS.
“Equipping HCPs with the knowledge and skills to self care should be a key focus of the NHS long-term plan. This would help to ensure a sustainable future, in terms of educating people how to manage self-treatable conditions, but also the complex challenges associated with the management of long-term health conditions, particularly in an ageing population.
“There is still more to do to enable GPs to support their patients to self care. The Royal College of General Practitioners conducted a recent study that found that currently just 42 per cent pf practices focus on providing self care advice and support. This is despite 67 per cent of GPs believing support for patients to self care would help to reduce their workload and ultimately improve the patient experience and health outcomes.”