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'Worried well' cost NHS time and money

Approximately £2bn of healthcare money is wasted on adults of working age seeing their GP for a minor ailment.

Almost a fifth of GP appointments are spent seeing patients for back pain, indigestion and other common complaints including coughs, colds and headaches. This is time taken away from patients who are in most need, such as people with diabetes.

Self Care Campaign

A group of leading doctors, nurses and other professionals involved in primary care warn of the “catastrophic impact” of the public’s dependency on the NHS. They argue that more effective teaching by health workers, school classes in health and use of the NHS as part of the National Curriculum are all required to change the attitude and understanding of the general public towards common minor illnesses.

They suggest that a shift in behaviour could save the NHS £10bn over five years, going some way to meeting the savings of up to £20bn that the Department of Health needs to find by 2014.

Seventeen signatories, including Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, have set up the Self Care Campaign, which encourages self-management of minor ailments such as a cough, cold, headache, etc, to save billions of NHS funds and GPs' time.

Empowering people to self-manage

“Most people with diabetes spend only a few hours a year with health professionals and so it is imperative that they have access to quality information, to structured education, to personalised care planning and to healthcare professionals to help them understand their condition," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK. 

"People must be empowered to make better decisions about their own diabetes care the rest of the time so that they can maintain independent, healthy and active lives. If they need support to achieve this, it should be widely available. 

"Self-management does not mean that people are left to do everything on their own, but that health and social care professionals, peers and family members help to provide the support they need.

"This will not only ensure that people with diabetes face a healthier future but will also help cut the £1m an hour that the NHS spends on diabetes complications such as heart disease, stroke and blindness.”

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