The public needs to be encouraged to self-care, report urges

Avoidable visits to emergency departments are costing millions per year and could be avoided by better self-care, suggests research commissioned by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain

The NHS must take action to tackle the unnecessary visits made to emergency departments that are costing £290 million a year and putting emergency services in crisis, a report has said.

Research commissioned by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) published today says one in five (19.1%) visits to the emergency department are unnecessary, with 3.6 million visits a year for minor ailments such as coughs, flu and muscular pain.

Guidelines for self-care drawn up by PAGB outline ways the NHS could relieve pressure on hospitals by informing the public about self-care.

They include a high-profile national awareness campaign to show people how to self-treat, as well as providing advice on where to access the right care and improve health literacy in children.

PAGB chief executive Matthew Speers said: ‘In 2002, the Wanless Review warned politicians and health leaders that unless they acted to encourage more people to take control of their health, the NHS would face a rising burden of avoidable illness. Thirteen years later the NHS is facing a financial, demographic and workforce crisis. This cannot continue and that is why we are calling for immediate action.’

Read the findings in full here

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