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Patients (Self-Diagnosis)

Volume 978: debated on Thursday 14 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in the light of his comments that the public were insufficiently informed and lacking in restraint in their demand upon the health services, if it is his intention to encourage some form of "Diagnose Yourself" and "Treat Yourself" campaign; and whether he is satisfied that such an approach would not lead to delay in diagnosis and treatment of conditions because of the absence of trained medical attention.

If we are to make the best use of scarce and valuable resources in the National Health Service we must promote self-reliance in the management and avoidance of minor ailments so as to leave the doctor time to deal with those patients who really need trained medical attention. This is a view endorsed by the British Medical Association.The Health Education Council drew attention to this in its campaign last year about medicines and drugs; this was a follow-up to an earlier campaign which rebutted the notion that there was a "pill for every ill" and that a doctor should invariably prescribe medicines if a patient consulted him. It is this attitude to drugs and the consequent expectations of the doctor's role, which must change if the NHS is to serve its proper purpose.