Do not visit GP over coughs and colds, LGA advises

The Local Government Association (LGA) has released a statement urging people not to make appointments to see their GP unnecessarily, over coughs and colds and to instead consider pharmacies or NHS websites for help.

It said adopting this kind of approach could help save GP an hour a day on average and has called upon local authorities to help increase ‘health literacy’ among patients.

Currently GPs manage 57 million cases of minor conditions and illnesses, such as coughs, colds, back pain and insect bites a year, while A&Es deal with 3.7 million similar cases, costing the NHS more than £2 billion annually.

Statistics show back pain is one of the most common causes for a GP visit, yet most cases can be treated with over-the-counter treatments and self-care. Meanwhile 5.2 million GP appointments were for blocked noses; 40,000 for dandruff; and 20,000 for travel sickness.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "We need a new culture of care, where people stop and think before calling the doctor.

"Patients need to be helped in learning how to look after themselves, for example in managing long-term conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and GPs can play a key role in this."