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The latest news from the Self Care Forum and its member organisations:

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Annual Self Care Conference: Self Care Week launched amidst calls for health literacy to be taught in schools

11/11/2014

Green cardsSelf Care Week 2014 was launched by Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality, at yesterday’s Annual Self Care Conference, ‘Can self care plug the £30 billion NHS gap?’, organised by the Self Care Forum and PAGB.  Earl Howe said: “Going further on self care is absolutely vital for the sustainability of the NHS and better for patients… it leads to improved patient outcomes, fewer unnecessary consultations and better use of resources.”  He spoke about the two-way partnership between patients and healthcare professionals to provide patients with the information, tools, support and care to help patients get well and stay well.

Delegates at the conference heard about the importance of improving health literacy and the need to teach health education in schools.  “You wouldn’t dream about not teaching numeracy and literacy so why is health literacy not taught?” asked Dr Selwyn Hodge, Self Care Forum Board member and former Chair of the Royal Society for Public Health.  With a £30 billion deficit forecast by 2020, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and appropriate use of the NHS amongst young people is vital for addressing long-term demand management.  The audience voted unanimously in favour of such education being included on the national curriculum.

Self Care Forum Board member, Dr Pete Smith launched the Self Care Forum’s Manifesto, ‘My Health, My Life’ which gives positive and practical steps to achieving the personal engagement needed to ensure the future success of the NHS.  Dr Smith explained that the recommendations made in the Manifesto would lead to “Healthier people who are experts at every stage in their lives”, adding “How can you make a choice when you don’t have the information to start with?”

“Lifelong learning, empowerment, information and local and national campaigns are the four pillars to literate, engaged and empowered individuals”, noted Dr Smith.

Also speaking at the conference, Rob Webster, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation agreed that the NHS needs to do things differently to cope with escalating demand.  He stressed the importance of “re-shaping care around the needs, aspirations and capabilities of people”, embracing patients as partners as well as making the most of technology.  Describing the NHS as “a guest in other people’s lives”, he added that “We should see people as assets, not issues, and our outcomes should be theirs.”

Dr William Bird’s closing message was that health professionals need to listen to patients and tailor advice to their own particular circumstances if they are to be motivated into living more healthily.  “Don’t isolate physical activity” he said as it is often already part of people’s everyday lives but not something that they see as ‘exercise’.  Encouraging people to do activities that are fun and social, such as community walking groups and ‘Beat the Street’ where children participate in a game to win the competition by collecting points on their walks, can help “change the culture of inactivity”.

Self Care Week is the annual national awareness week that focuses on embedding support for self care across communities, families and generations.  This year it takes place from 17th-23rd November 2014 with the theme ‘Self Care for Life – Be healthy this winter’.

Further information can be found on the Self Care Week page 

Self Care Forum’s Manifesto provides the ‘how’ to achieving maximum patient engagement

11/11/2014

petesmithThe Self Care Forum’s Manifesto, ‘My Health, My Life’, was launched at yesterday’s Annual Self Care Conference.  It gives positive and practical steps to achieving the personal engagement needed to ensure the future success of the NHS.  The recently published ‘NHS Five Year Forward View’[i] acknowledges the same opportunity for increased self care  that was put forward 12 years ago in the Wanless Report but includes little on how the necessary universal engagement might be achieved.

The Self Care Forum believes that maximum engagement can be achieved by putting people in charge of their own lives, giving them the information to make their own decisions and by using the health service as a support and resource when needed.  To realise the benefits, the Manifesto focuses on the ‘four pillars of self care’: Lifelong learning, empowerment, information and local and national campaigns.

Dr Pete Smith OBE, a GP, winner of the 2014 NICE Shared Learning Award and Self Care Forum Board member explains: “With demand for health services increasing at an alarming rate, increasing levels of public engagement in relation to their health is more important than ever.  Our Manifesto includes new recommendations for radical changes in approach to promote engagement and calls for existing methods to be expanded, equipping them with the information and knowledge to self care throughout their lives.  It pinpoints what needs to happen throughout life for people to feel confident in taking control of their own health, looking after themselves, making healthy lifestyle choices and knowing when they really do need to seek NHS help and support.

“To ensure the sustainability of the NHS, empower patients and embrace the opportunities outlined in the ‘NHS Five Year Forward View’, we urge health policy leaders to act on these recommendations.”

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive, General Secretary of the RCN and Self Care Forum Board member said: “The NHS is facing overwhelming challenges over the coming years. With an ageing population and public health crises, this agenda is extremely important. Supporting people to care for themselves, and to know when professional treatment is needed, will be crucial in delivering a health service fit for the future and the public must be better engaged and supported in doing this.”

Click here to download the Self Care Forum’s Manifesto ‘My Health, My Life’


[i] NHS Five Year Forward View, Chapter 1: Why does the NHS need to change?, page 6, published October 2014: http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf

Men's Health and Primary Care: Improving Access and Outcomes In England

10/31/2014

This is a report of Men’s Health and Primary Care: Improving Access and Outcomes in England produced by the EMHF (European Men’s Health Forum). The round table event was held on 2nd July 2014 and was chaired by EMHF President Professor Ian Banks. The report talks about men’s health across Europe and how Primary Healthcare services can improve men’s health in terms of presentation, early diagnosis and treatment.

EMHF England Primary Care Roundtable July 2014 Report Final

Treat Yourself Better Poster

09/23/2014

TYBposterThis poster has been produced for the ‘Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice’ campaign. It can be used to remind patients that antibiotics do not help common winter ailments and how long they can expect the symptoms to last for.  It promots the pharmacist as the first port of call for advice on winter ailments.

Click here to download:
Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice GP Poster Self Care Forum Logo

Other resources to support Self Care Week can be found on the resources page

Become an Antibiotic Guardian

09/11/2014

SRC Knight Logo BlueEuropean Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) is a public health initiative aimed at encouraging responsible use of antibiotics and is held every year on the 18th November.

For European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2014, Public Health England is asking everyone in the UK, the public and the medical community to become Antibiotic Guardians.

On the Antibiotic Guardian website, choose one simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save this vital medicine from becoming obsolete.

Here PHE Primary Care guidance for Gateway review FINAL is a document produced by Public Health England entitled “Management of infection guidance for primary care for consultation and local adaptation” which aims to provide a simple, effective, economical and empirical approach to the treatment of common infections.  It includes the use of antibiotics and antifungals in primary care.

Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice

09/10/2014

tybSCFTreat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice is the new 2014/15 winter campaign from PAGB and Pharmacy Voice which urges people to treat winter ailments themselves and to seek advice from their pharmacist before going directly to their GP.

New research highlights that a worrying 6 million UK adults would visit their GP and over 2 million would visit A&E as a first port of call for common winter ailments such as colds and flu[1].    One of the most common reasons people visit their GP when suffering with a winter ailment is because they want or think they need antibiotics1, however antibiotics don’t have any impact on common winter ailments which are caused by viruses. Antibiotics only work against bacteria.  Despite government efforts to reduce prescriptions for antibiotics, recent research showed a 40% rise in antibiotic prescriptions by GPs for colds and flu (from 1999-2011)[2]. Additionally, research from the Longitude Prize survey found nearly half of GPs admit to prescribing ‘useless’ antibiotics just to get pushy patients to leave their surgeries.[3]

To help tackle this issue and reduce unnecessary visits to GP surgeries and A&E, Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice encourages people to visit their pharmacist first for expert advice.  Pharmacies are an underused resource with only one in five adults making use of their local pharmacy for winter ailments.  Pharmacists can help people better manage their winter ailments by providing personalised advice on what treatments will be most effective and what “warning signs” to look out for which may require medical attention.

The research also identified that people frequently underestimate the normal duration of winter ailments and therefore visit their GP too early1.   The website www.treatyourselfbetter.co.uk  informs people on how long they can expect symptoms to last and what they can do to treat themselves better to avoid an unnecessary trip to the GP.  It also features a new healthcare professional section which hosts a downloadable consumer leaflet with self-care advice and a poster for use in GP surgeries and pharmacies so healthcare professionals can support the campaign and encourage patients to speak to their pharmacist first about winter ailments.

The campaign hopes to relieve some pressure from the already struggling NHS.  With each GP consultation costing the NHS £43 and an A&E walk-in-service costing £41[4], unnecessary visits for winter ailments could cost over £343 million which could be better spent on people who need medical attention.

Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice is supported by a number of stakeholders including the Department of Health and Public Health England.

Visit www.treatyourselfbetter.co.uk to find out how long you can expect cold and flu symptoms to last for, what you can do to treat yourself better and the warning signs to look out for.


[1] Research carried out on behalf of the Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice campaign by Redshift Research. Sample size: 2,000 UK adults, July 2014.

[2] Hawker J. et al. Trends in antibiotic prescribing in primary care for clinical syndromes subject to national recommendations to reduce antibiotic resistance, UK 1995–2011: analysis of a large database of primary care consultations Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. August 2014.  http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/08/01/jac.dku291.short?rss=1

[3]Research carried out by The Longitudinal Prize 2014 on behalf of Nesta. Sample size: 1,000 doctors, July 2014. http://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/longitude-paper-antibiotics-open-review.pdf

[4] Curtis L. Personal and Social Services Research Unit, Canterbury University. Unit costs of health and social care  2012. Available at: http://www.pssru.ac.uk/project-pages/unit-costs/2012/. Accessed August, 2014.

Beth McCarron-Nash explains the merits of self care to fellow GPs

09/08/2014

BethMcCarronNashIn a bid to convince her peers of the value in promoting self care to patients, Self Care Forum Board member, Dr Beth McCarron-Nash wrote three blogs for GP Magazine.

By addressing exactly how self care benefits patients, doctors and the NHS, Dr McCarron-Nash, who is also a GPC negotiator and a GP, makes it clear that it is imperative surgeries introduce self care. She insists the “rise in patient demand means that general practice is so over stretched that GPs have no alternative but to include self care as a tool to reduce demand. “

For further information please click here

How To Guide - Updated for 2014

07/15/2014

howtoguideimageThe Self Care Forum’s guide to implementing a self care aware approach to demand management has been updated for 2014.

The updated version is available to download on the How To Guide page.

New case study: The DIY Health Model to empower parents in managing children's health

06/30/2014

firstaidThe DIY Health Model was co-created by Bromley by Bow Health Partnership (BBBHP, Tower Hamlets, London) in partnership with the community it serves in response to a need identifiable across most general practices in the UK.

Parents of children under the age of 5 were frequently re-attending St Andrew’s Health Centre (one of the surgeries run by BBBHP) for support with managing self-limiting childhood problems.  These repeat visits led to a recognition that health care professionals needed to work better with parents and carers to identify how to provide knowledge and skills that ensure they were more confident to manage their children’s health at home and when to seek further help.

The first cohort of the programme, with topics including fever management, diarrhoea, vomiting, coughs, cold and flu, saw outstanding results.  Not only were parents more confident and empowered, in the three month period looked at, parents who had attended the most sessions had a reduced attendance for the GP, as well as out-of-hours GP and A&E.

To read the full case study please click here 

Educating patients on coughs and colds has won Self Care Forum Board member a NICE award

05/19/2014

Pete SmithDr Pete Smith, GP and Self Care Forum Board Member won the NICE Shared Learning Award 2014.  His entry, which came first out of 70 examples, was based on a practice-wide programme which used NICE guidance to reduce antibiotic prescribing for coughs and colds in his surgery, Churchill Medical Practice in Kingston.

The Self Care Forum’s fact sheets on coughs and the common cold were key to the project which aimed to educate patients on treating these self-limiting conditions at home, and without the use of antibiotics.

Dr Smith was one of three finalists who presented studies at the NICE Annual Conference on 14 May and delegates at the conference choose his as the overall winner.

His antibiotics programme was first presented at PAGB’s Annual Self Care Conference in 2012, at the start of its implementation, with a follow-up presentation at the 2013 Self Care Conference which detailed the results.  He told delegates at the conference, because of his programme “804 people every year will avoid unnecessary antibiotics and 50 out of every 1000 on the practice list will benefit.”  He urged his primary care colleagues to start their own self care schemes saying “with the Self Care Forum’s fact sheets, the difficult bit has been done for you – and it’s been proven to work.”

Further information can be found in Dr Smith’s 2013 presentation and on the NICE website