MPs and peers want the government to develop a minister-led national strategy for self-care in order to reduce the number of inappropriate visits to hospital A&E departments and GP surgeries.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Primary Care and Public Health argues the move – which is likely to see patients with minor conditions directed to their local pharmacy for care and advice – would make better use of a cash-strapped NHS which spent around £10 billion in the last five years on conditions which patients could have treated themselves.
The recommendation is 1 of 15 made by the APPG in its report, published on 16 March 2016, which followed its inquiry into ‘NHS England’s Five Year Forward View: Behaviour Change, Information and Signposting’.
The group says information about disease symptoms and typical length of disease should be consistent across the NHS – including NHS 111 algorithms and the clinical EMIS system – so that messages about when it is appropriate to self-care are clear.
In its inquiry report, the group recommends that the ‘Make every contact count’ campaign is adopted by local councils and clinical commissioning groups and should involve pharmacists, dentists and optometrist.
The APPG also says health education should be included in personal, social, health and economic education for all 5 to 18 year olds and be included in Ofsted inspections.