John Smith is chief executive of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB)
Accident and emergency services across the UK are facing one of the worst winters they’ve ever had, with media reports of vital operations being cancelled and elderly people and children being forced to sleep in hospital corridors due to a lack of bed space.
This crisis has only added fuel to the argument that the system needs to start shifting towards a greater focus on preventive care, and a need to educate people – on both a national and local level – about their health and how to self care.
This winter, PAGB conducted research into the use of GP and A&E services for self-treatable conditions in Greater Manchester. We found that the area has 12 per cent more A&E attendances for minor ailments than the region with the lowest proportion – the east of England – and almost one in 10 people (nine per cent) lack the confidence to manage their own health.
Greater Manchester is the first region in the country to take control of its health and social care budgets – a sum of more than £6 billion. This means that leaders and clinicians within the Greater Manchester area can tailor and spend budgets accordingly, depending on the needs of the local community.
As part of this, they are encouraging individuals to take greater charge of, and responsibility for, their own health and wellbeing. They are working to transform the way people view and use the health system, so that they feel more empowered and, in turn, rely less on NHS services.
In Greater Manchester alone, PAGB has estimated that by reducing A&E attendances, alleviating the pressures on GP services and prescribing more efficiently, the health system there could save £22.5 million. This would pay for either 229 more doctors or more than 1,500 nurses, who can treat and provide services to those people who really need it.
PAGB has produced a green paper outlining some of the policy initiatives that Greater Manchester should consider as part of its strategy to upgrade its approach to self care:
PAGB is keen to hear from pharmacists and other healthcare professionals regarding our policy suggestions to understand what opportunities exist, or what work is already being pursued locally on any of the above initiatives. You can find the green paper at pagb.co.uk – please share your feedback with us.