With the new move towards “self-care” across the board for our patients, this is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that patients have a huge range of options available to them when it comes to making decisions regarding their healthcare and we, as professionals, have a responsibility to highlight these and correctly direct them to appropriate services. We have a duty to spread the message to family, friends and patients to make the correct choice when accessing healthcare services- and this can help reduce the burden on everybody.
Patients have access to:
- Hospital ServicesUrgent Care
- Centres/Walk-in services
- GP Surgeries
- NHS 111
Some patients are still unaware of the utility of these services, and the degree to which these are linked is far better and sophisticated than they used to be. A patient can ring NHS 111 for a minor complaint, speak to a healthcare professional and have a prescription generated, and have this sent to a late-night pharmacy on the same day. This could save patients from using up a GP appointment or attending a walk-in centre/A+E, freeing up that slot for someone who requires more urgent attention, and keeps the entire system efficient and focused.
The “Help Us, Help You” campaign was pushed heavily this year following another difficult winter for NHS services, with the usual stories about Acute Trusts being unable to cope, and patients suffering as a consequence. Waiting times in A&E have direct and measurable consequences on outcomes. Recent research shows that a six hour wait in A&E leads to 1 death out of every 83, whereas an eleven hour wait leads to 1 death out of every 30. Directing patients to lower-level services which may be more appropriate for them could save lives.
Aadam Anwar is a Surgical Directorate Pharmacist at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, with a keen interest in mental health. He is an advocate for raising awareness and promoting the treatment of mental health in the Muslim community.