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Health Education

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps his Department is taking to encourage people to self-care for minor ailments, with particular reference to provision of information for (a) the general public and (b) school children; (323431)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to encourage GPs to increase the number of their patients self-caring for minor ailments.

Community pharmacies already support people to self care, providing advice on how to treat or manage their minor ailments and appropriate use of over-the-counter medicines. They are conveniently located on the high street, in the community and in supermarkets. The pharmacy communications programme, currently underway, aims to raise awareness of the services available from pharmacies.

Information on self care support, including "Making the most of your pharmacist" is available through Your health, your way on NHS Choices. NHS Choices and NHS Direct offer facilities, such as online symptom checkers and self assessment tools, to help people understand where self care is appropriate in the treatment of minor ailments and when they should seek advice from medical professionals. NHS Choices also provides online advice about accidents to children at home and details a number of instances when children should be taken to hospital.

A range of material about self care and personalised care planning is available for health and social care professionals. This aims to raise awareness of the choices of self care options available and how to incorporate self care into personalised care planning discussions.

In addition, a web-based training module for clinicians and other professionals is offered through the national learning management system - Supporting Self Care was developed with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and DH e-learning for Healthcare. It is also available to GPs as part of their e-GP training materials.

The Department fully supports a greater focus on self care. With proper support from the NHS and health professionals, such as GPs and pharmacists, people can take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.