Driving down inappropriate use of unscheduled and urgent care is a major public health challenge as the number of people attending A&E continues to rise. With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, you may be asking what you can do, in order to reduce the pressure on urgent care over the holiday season and enable your communities to self-care and self-manage their health.
Our experience of working with the NHS to support communities to take control of their health and access the most appropriate services has shown us that inappropriate use is a serious problem for the NHS. Using resources for less serious issues is not only costly but means that they may not be available for the people that need them most.
With this in mind, we’ve highlighted our key messages to help you get into the right service, in the right place, at the right time…
1. Underline the role of Accident and Emergency: The key point is that Accident and Emergency is for emergencies or life-threatening situations; it treats patients who have experienced a medical or surgical emergency/accident in the past 24 hours, which has resulted in serious injury.
2. Don’t just tell people how primary care will help – show them: Video is a powerful tool for demonstrating how services will meet people’s needs. Use animations, walkthroughs and case studies to reassure people that they will get the help they need.
3. Communicate the speed of primary care services: Clearly explain how people may get treated more quickly by accessing the most appropriate services, such as walk-in centres, pharmacies or their own GP (including Out of Hours), even self-care for non-emergency conditions.
4. Highlight the value of pharmacies: Show that pharmacists are on hand to provide general medical advice and treatment. As well as dispensing prescriptions, it’s important to remind communities that pharmacies offer ‘on-the-spot’ help and advice on minor ailments such as coughs, stomach aches and headaches.
5. Raise awareness of self-care: Lots of health problems can be treated at home, so a key part of any communication is highlighting the range of over-the-counter medicine people can keep in their own homes, including painkillers cough mixture and antiseptic.
6. Make this a year-round campaign, not just a winter one: Although the pressure is on A&E during winter, the need for improved self-care is constant and takes into account healthier living and long-term conditions management support. Make self-care socially normal, not just a thing to do during winter.
People are at the heart of everything we do. Our behaviour change experts will work with you to empower communities and drive a measurable shift in behaviour and attitudes. We’re committed to developing innovative solutions which engage, educate and inform.
If you’d like to know more about this proven approach and how it could work for you, contact us on 0845 5193 423 / firstname.lastname@example.org