Self care – a money saving cop out or common sense and reasonable expectation?

My mum was a nurse. This meant the level of health care I received was excellent but at times a little ‘harsh’.

Basically the key questions were … ‘has it fallen off?’ or ‘can you see the bone’?

If the answer to these was ‘no’ on both counts the treatment given was a paracetamol or a plaster – occasionally both.

Coughs, colds, sickness bugs, earache, cuts, bruises, sprains and more besides were all dealt with swiftly from our home medical kit and never meant troubling a GP.

I grew up knowing how to manage symptoms from common illnesses and at what point it was really necessary to seek further intervention.

I’ve had my share of broken bones now and have nothing but praise for our local A&E departments who, sometimes immediately or sometimes after several hours, have examined, x-rayed, plastered and instructed me on how to use crutches.

But what boils my blood is reading about, and even hearing first hand whilst waiting in A&E, some of the reasons people turn up there and expect treating.

Earlier this year Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), revealed the top ten reasons people have used A&E when they didn’t need to, but people are still continuing to use the service inappropriately. The top ten worst offending minor conditions seen A&E in the past month, which could have easily been treated elsewhere, include:

  • cotton bud stuck in ear
  • morning after pill
  • loose teeth
  • cough
  • eczema
  • toe pain
  • ring stuck on finger
  • insect bite
  • earring stuck in ear
  • blister on heel

Another study from NHS East Midlands showed 40% of people attending A&E were discharged without requiring ANY treatment!

Self-care may be the new ‘buzzword’. But people claiming it’s a new way of stopping providing services is utter nonsense. The concept of taking responsibility for, and looking after, yourself and those close to you should not be anything other than standard common sense and decency.

Everybody, without exception, should be taught how to manage minor ailments and what pills and potions are available over the counter and with the guidance of a good chemist. We could all do our bit to help reduce the pressure on hospitals and even GP practices if we learned a little more about good basic healthcare.

Now I’m not suggesting that my mum’s two questions are an appropriate first aid assessment to carry out in every scenario but I am saying we should ask ourselves do I REALLY need to seek medical help for this? I’m guessing if we had to pay as much for our own treatment as we do for our pets people would most certainly be thinking twice before rushing off for every little issue!