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02.01.18

RCGP urges patients to use ‘3 before GP’ mantra before visiting doctor over winter

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has called on patients to consider whether they really need to see a GP before making an appointment during the busy winter period.

By asking patients to adopt a three-step ‘mantra,’ the college hopes it will encourage those who can deal with a problem a different way to do so.

The mantra, “3 before GP,” refers to three questions that patients should ask themselves before booking a GP appointment.

Patients should first consider whether they can self-care, use NHS Choices or a similar reputable resource, or seek advice or treatment from a pharmacist.

GP workload has risen by 16% over the last seven years, but the number of GPs has not risen in line with this demand.

Whilst GPs are offering more consultations than ever before, recent RCGP analysis has warned that by 2020, patients will be waiting for more than a week for an appointment with a GP or practice nurse on 100 million occasions.

In 2015, research by the Primary Care Foundation claimed that as many as 27% of GP consultations were potentially avoidable.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of RCGP, said that although GPs are under pressure all year round, the winter months bring additional challenges.

“Not being able to get an appointment is frustrating for both patients and GPs, but there are a variety of alternatives to consider first and I would encourage patients with more minor illnesses to think hard about whether they actually need to see a GP,” she stated.

The RCGP chair also added that it is hoped that the “3 before GP” mantra will be a simple way to reduce the strain on GPs and enable them to spend more time with complex health issues and are most in need of their GP’s help.

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