It is a testing time for the health service and latest figures show GPs are worried about winter.
A Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) survey shows they’re “extremely concerned” about delivering care effectively this winter.
A huge 73% admitted they are worried workloads will negatively affect their ability to provide care for local patients in coming months.
While 56% say patients don’t understand it’s harder to get an appointment during winter.
They’re asking us to think ‘Three before GP’. But what do they mean?
Perth-based GP Dr David Shackles, Joint Chair of RCGP Scotland, says: “Traditionally, over the winter period, there is no doubt GP workloads increase.
“We’re extremely concerned about the impact this is likely to have on practice staff who are already finding it difficult to cope this year.”
Joint Chair Dr Chris Williams, adds: “With winter looming, GPs and their teams are already bracing themselves for a particularly tough few months ahead.
“And the cracks are already starting to show.”
So what can I do?
Patients are being asked to consider the “Three before GP” message.
These are options the RCGP says you should consider before contacting a GP.
What are the three?
Before you pick up the phone to your local surgery consider:
- Self-care – a range of common illnesses such as colds and minor injuries can be treated at home simply by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest.
- Looking on NHS Inform to find out about your symptoms – remember don’t turn to Dr Google!
- Speaking to a local community pharmacy and using the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service.
But, of course, Dr Williams adds: “It is important to remember if you think you need medical attention from your practice team, or if symptoms don’t improve, then please do not hesitate to seek advice from your GP practice.”
What if I need vaccination help?
Rather than phoning your GP you can check online if you have questions about Covid vaccines, boosters or flu vaccinations, rather than your GP.
Once again, NHS Inform is the best place to look.
Dr Williams adds: “In much of Scotland, Covid-19 booster and flu vaccination programmes have been transferred to Health and Social Care Partnerships and are no longer given by GPs or their practice staff.
“It is also more important than ever for patients who are offered a flu vaccine ensure they receive it.
“More information about who is eligible for a flu vaccine is available on NHS Inform or on 0800 030 8013.”