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Patients can play a key role in taking pressure off GP services

A short film has been produced which aims to encourage people in Suffolk to do their bit to help take the strain off local NHS services by making greater use of their local pharmacies.

With the NHS facing unprecedented demand from users while also under pressure to manage costs, health professionals believe that even small changes in behaviour could reduce the burden and free up more money for patient care.

The film features local people – a GP, a pharmacist and pharmacy customer who explain the real benefits of making use of pharmacy services.

In fact, local NHS leaders believe that even simple changes such as buying paracetamol over the counter instead of through a prescription could save thousands of pounds.

Dr David Egan, a GP and a Suffolk clinical commissioning group member, said there were a number of things that the public could do to help, and a campaign to persuade patients to buy their own paracetamol over the counter had saved around £200,000 in the east Suffolk area alone.

He said that things people can do to try and help the health system included ensuring that they have medication in their own home to look after simple coughs and colds.

Patients could also help ease the pressure on GP and out-of-hours services by firstly seeking advice from their local pharmacist.

“Pharmacists can contact their local GPs to discuss patients or medication matters with them, and they can help with many of the queries that patients may have,” he said.  “It’s estimated that 10% of a GP’s time may be taken up dealing with medication matters, that could be dealt with by a pharmacist.”

Anne King regularly uses her pharmacy to buy medicines over the counter and seek advice for herself, husband Stephen, and daughter Hannah.

She said: “We prefer to use the pharmacist because I don’t have to make an appointment. When I go to the doctor’s it’s a long trip to get there, and the doctors are often busy.”

Paul Heeks, pharmacist at Station Pharmacy, a Healthy Living Pharmacy in Elmswell near Bury St Edmunds, said he was seeing more people making use of pharmacy services.

“GP practices are often clogged up dealing with minor ailments. Those kinds of things don’t need the doctor, they can be treated quite nicely over the counter,” he said.

 Active 10

One You Active 10 App
As part of Public Health England’s One You campaign, people are being encouraged to download the free Active 10 app. The app is the first of its kind to measure both time and intensity, showing them how much brisk walking they’re doing, and encouraging them to fit in a bit more by setting achievable goals.
To help understand if inactivity is affecting your local populations, you can also use the fingertips data (needs Internet Explorer 10 or higher or Chrome), which shows how many adults in your local authority do less than 30 minutes activity a week. This data also compares against the regional and national average.


Notes to editors: Edited rushes of the key interviews and GVs of the pharmacy, without V/O are available on request. There are two versions of the film:

Full length version (3 minutes, 52 seconds) - HERE

Shorter version (1 minute, 37 seconds) - HERE




Issued by The Communications Team on 01473 770014


NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group –


NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group –

Suffolk county council -

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