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UK doctor urges Kiwis to adopt Self Care health concept

UK doctor urges Kiwis to adopt Self Care health concept

New Zealanders are being urged by a visiting British general practitioner to join UK and United States’ consumers in taking more control of their own health through a concept known as Self Care.

Dr Simon Fradd, a practising GP and a founding member of the UK Self Care Forum, is a keynote speaker at the New Zealand Self Medication Industry Association (SMI) conference being held in Auckland today.

“We invited Dr Fradd to speak to our members because he is an expert in the concept of Self Care which is well developed in the UK,” explains SMI executive director, Tim Roper.

Consumer healthcare products industry body, SMI, along with its counterparts in other parts of the world, advocates Self Care which can include physical exercise and sound nutrition in order to maintain good health and prevent disease, as well as using over-the-counter (OTC) medication to treat and prevent illness, and managing one’s health after discharge from hospital.

“It may sound simple enough but the present system isn’t working well and people aren’t always getting the right care at the right time from the right healthcare professional.”

SMI suggests New Zealanders may be wasting up to $126 million a year on unnecessary trips to the GP for minor ailments such as dandruff, constipation, diahorrea, and colds.

“Based upon recent trends in Britain, Australia and United States one in five GP visits in this country may be unnecessary and costing the taxpayer millions in health dollars. Clearly, with our ageing population and medical workforce, this is unsustainable,” comments SMI executive director Tim Roper.

“That’s money that could be better spent elsewhere and not wasted on prescribing painkillers or dandruff treatments that people could just as easily buy without a prescription at the pharmacy or supermarket.”

Current Ministry of Health[1] data shows $629.7 million provided 12.2 million GP visits and 2.3 million nurse visits in 2011/2012.

“If even 20 percent of that could be saved it could provide a lot more heart and hip operations for our ageing population. Kiwis need to learn that the GP does not need to be their first option for mild illnesses.

“We believe, for example, the role of pharmacists could be expanded and access to medicines improved, where safety of the medicine is not seen as an issue, to reduce the reliance upon doctors who are already overburdened. This burden will only increase as our population grows and ages.

With better health education, electronic access to health information and appropriate labelling on OTC medicines the pharmacist could become a first-line professional for many people. Mr Roper says pharmacists are well trained and will refer patients they believe need to see a GP.


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