People across Blackburn and Darwen and East Lancashire are being urged to help themselves and their families as winter is approaching by caring for themselves when they have minor illnesses such as coughs, colds and sore throats.
Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups, run by local GPs, are urging people to visit the pharmacy for advice and guidance and to stock up at home on commonly used remedies such a paracetamol and ibuprofen.
National statistics show that there are more than 57 million GP consultations a year for minor ailments, costing round £2 billion and taking up on average an hour a day for every GP.
Research shows that people often seek a doctor’s advice earlier than they need to. In many cases, just allowing a minor illness such as a cold a chance to run its course or buying a remedy over the counter at a pharmacy is a better way to treat the symptoms.
Dr Pervez Muzaffar, a Darwen GP and Clinical Lead for Health and Wellbeing at Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said that in most cases of minor illness, looking after yourself is the best way to treat the symptoms.
“Many of these illnesses, particularly winter illnesses such as coughs and colds, are caused by viruses. So antibiotics simply won’t cure them. The best thing people can do is rest, drink lots of fluids and visit their pharmacy for advice or remedies which they can buy over the counter.”
An estimated £600,000 is spent in Blackburn with Darwen each year on medicines prescribed for minor illnesses and GPs are being encouraged to give people advice on looking after themselves, rather than giving out prescriptions.
“The advice we will be giving people includes information on what to look out for in terms of more serious symptoms which might mean that they do need to seek a medical opinion,” added Dr Muzaffar. “For instance, if a cough persists for 3 to 4 weeks, it is a good idea to get it checked out.”
Patients will receive information leaflets telling them how best to care for themselves, how to get further advice and what to do if they become more ill. There will also be information available about what to include in your home medicine cabinet to be ready for when you or your family are ill.
NOTE TO EDITOR: The top 10 minor ailments for which people seek GP appointments unnecessarily are:
- Lower back pain
- Sore throat
- Fever (in children over six months old)
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Sprains and strains
- Headaches and migraines