Don’t Need No Doctor

There was an interesting article on Radio 4 this morning.  It stated that NHS spends £2bn a year on patients who visit their GP when they don’t need to.  1 in 5 GP visits fall into this category.  The most common reasons are colds, back pain, headaches and indigestion.  All of which could be treated by a visit to the pharmacy or spending a day or two in bed.

Interestingly the article didn’t say what to do about it and the media doesn’t help.  Indigestion could be a minor heart attack and the last cold I had was definitely the precursor to bird flu.

If you were in charge, how would you educate patients about when they should self treat?

1.  Get patients to use the NHS web site, provide internet access in waiting rooms.
2.  Provide pharmacies with self help leaflets.
3.  Give persistent offenders self diagnosis books.
4.  Publicise the NHS direct help line number.
5.  Make health awareness part of the school curriculum.

My list is admittedly a bit blunderbuss in approach but with a little data and analysis some targeted interventions should be possible.

Of course this isn’t just an NHS problem; it is rife in all service industries.  What could you do to stop your customers calling you?

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