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Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Unnecessary GP visits 'cost millions'
Pharmacy
Many minor conditions can be treated with drugs freely available in chemists
Patients who insist on consulting a GP for minor conditions they could treat themselves are costing the NHS millions of pounds, according to a leading pharmaceutical retailer.

Boots the Chemists says that patients who consult their GPs rather than going to a chemist for advice are costing the NHS 380 million a year.

It says every year 96 million appointments with family doctors are for matters which could be treated with medicines available from the local pharmacy.

Boots is launching a series of TV adverts aimed at making the public realise there is an alternative to visiting their GP if they only have a cold or sore throat.

Digby Emson, pharmacy superintendent for Boots, said: "Six million people visit a pharmacy in the UK every week, in order to get on the spot advice in a friendly and familiar environment.

"We want to raise awareness of the role of pharmacist through his advertisement."

The adverts, to be screened from September 6, will show different circumstances in which people consult their chemist on health issues.

Dr Simon Fradd, chairman of the Doctor Patient Partnership set up to advise the public how to make best use of the NHS, said there was a "vast amount" of minor self-limiting illnesses that could be adequately treated with over-the-counter preparations from the chemist.

He said: "There is very good liaison between GPs and pharmacists, so if a pharmacist is concerned about a case they will ensure the patient gets to see a doctor."

Dr Fradd said a reduction of 10% in the workload of the average GP - which could easily be achieved if they did not have to deal with minor ailments - would greatly increase the amount of time doctors could spend with patients in genuine need.

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22 Aug 00 | Health
Millions miss GP appointments
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