Patients are being urged to adopt a new three-step approach in order to help relieve pressures on GP services over the winter.
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) have launched a campaign called ‘3 before GP’ which refers to three questions patients should ask themselves before booking an appointment with their GP:
- Use NHS Choices or a similar reputable website/resource
- Seek advice/treatment via a pharmacist
The RCGP hopes this campaign with its easy to use slogan will encourage patients to think hard about whether they need to see a GP during the busy winter period or if they can deal with their health issue in a different way.
Workload has increased by 16% in surgeries over the last seven years, but the number of GPs has not risen with demand.
And yet research undertaken by the Primary Care Foundation in 2015 revealed that 27% of GP consultations were potentially avoidable.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs are under immense pressures all year round, but, as we know, the colder months bring additional challenges.
“Not being able to get an appointment is frustrating for both patients and GPs, but there are a variety of alternatives to consider first and I would encourage patients with more minor illnesses to think hard about whether they actually need to see a GP.
“The ‘3 before GP’ mantra is a simple and easy way to help reduce the strain on general practice, and we hope it will enable GPs to spend more time with patients who have complex health issues and are most in need of our expert help.”