Column: Ways to help our health service

Dr Mary Wren
Dr Mary Wren
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We know how frustrating it can be trying to get an appointment to see our GP.

I have been in that situation too.

Over the years I have been a GP I have seen a massive increase in workload, for all sorts of reasons.

Since I trained 30 years ago there are many more treatment options available for people – and often it is the GP who needs to take time talking these through with the patient.

Many things that used to be managed in the hospitals are now managed by GPs.

For example, I can remember when patients would be admitted to hospital to start certain medications and monitored until they were stable.

Now it is the GP who does the same monitoring.

There is an endless expectation for paperwork to be filled, protocols to be designed and standards to be met and all that can be good, but it also creates a huge amount of work and adds to the daily workload.

Then there is the change in our society.

Around 30 years ago, there would often be a family member to give common-sense advice.

Now families are more separated and the GP is often the first port of call.

We have much more diverse communities with different health needs, language needs and cultural expectations.

And we live in an instant fix society, where we want an answer now, or a quick fix or the best treatment that Google can advise!

What can we do? A very recent report by the Local Government Association says “one in five appointments is for minor ailments such as runny noses and colic in children.”

Things like common colds and viruses, back pain, indigestion, could all be treated by advice from a pharmacist or NHS choices website.

Simple self-care measures could stop millions of GP appointments and save up to an hour a day of GP time – and that’s time that can then be used for those who really need them.

Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the board, added: “Self-care should be a central part of how we care for patients, which is something councils up and down the country are actively promoting.”

Every year there are national self-care weeks and we embrace this in Sheffield too. Have a look at the NHS choices website under self-care. If we all save appointments when we can, we are more likely to get one when we need.