Patients are not to blame

Cormac Tobin, Managing Director at Celesio UK, including LloydsPharmacy.

When it comes to discussing the current state of the NHS, patients are beginning to get a bad reputation.

The public’s use of A&E was recently likened in the media to that of supermarket giant Tesco, with the pressures on A&E described as having little to do with population growth and rather the impatient expectations of patients about where and when they should receive healthcare.

It was commented that people are no longer willing to wait for a GP appointment when seeking treatment for minor issues, and will chose to wait at A&E instead, but resource is scarce and patients using the service inappropriately cause delays for emergency procedures.

Although some valid points were made about where patients should be accessing their health advice, the fault does not lie with patients themselves. From the moment we are born we enter the NHS system; a free and easily accessible health service, which we know is always there to treat and support us.

The NHS is no longer sustainable though and we, as patients, need to start using it in a different way. The NHS, government and all healthcare professionals, including Community Pharmacy, need to start educating patients on where to seek appropriate help when needed and begin easing this pressure on the NHS.

I urge patients to start understanding what their treatment options are before seeking advice or treatment; a great example of this is the service available at a pharmacy. Community Pharmacy holds a wealth of expertise, and pharmacists themselves are fully qualified and knowledgeable to treat specific minor ailments. Masses of patients visit community pharmacy every day; it’s time for those patients and healthcare professionals to start conversations and realise the potential Community Pharmacy has to offer.