Feeds

back to article NHS website stops whingers clogging up the surgeries

People using the NHS website to diagnose themselves are saving the organisation millions of pounds in unnecessary doctors' appointments. NHS Choices received 100 million visitors last year according to its annual report. About 19 million people looked at the site for information on swine 'flu and 40,000 left comments about …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge

If the NHS really want to save a few quid...

...they should take a leaf out of Spain's book and allow people to buy antibiotics over the counter without a prescription.

Most of my visits to doctors in the UK were either for damage repair or for some low/medium grade nasty. In the latter case, I knew damn well that the doctor was going to prescribe some common type of antibiotic. A surgery visit requires a couple of hours of my time when I'm not feeling at my best; expensive doctor time; and the chance of coughing on whoever is in the waiting room...all for a predictable result (the doctor is going to prescribe antibiotics which I'm then going to have to collect from the pharmacy; thus taking more time and spreading my lurgy even further).

Here in Spain I can get 'er done and be back in bed with a brandy inside 10 minutes; a process requiring no doctor time whatsoever and minimising any disease vector. Having antibiotics at my command also widens the range of homebrew damage repair I can attempt too, so DIY projects get done quicker.

It seems a far more sensible way of doing things and could save the NHS some serious money.

1
13
Silver badge

I would guess

I would guess the reason they're reluctant to do this, is that misuse of antibiotics increases the risk of developing drug resistant bacteria.

15
0
Anonymous Coward

antibiotics over the counter without a prescription.

Thats all very well if you know what you're doing, but the rise of antibiotic resistant diseases is due (in a large measure) to people self medicating antibiotics for everything from a cut finger to a cold.

The doctors don't escape blame either as they seem to think if they prescribe a course of pills they have done their job.

At present there is a problem in Indian hospitals with superbugs hitting the western medical tourists, some expert opinion puts this down to the unrestricted sale of antibiotics on the street.

9
0
Gold badge

Anti-biotics are not for viral infections

Antibiotics are for bacterial infections such as when you cut yourself or when you have surgery. They are not for viral infections like colds, flu and so on!!!

The reason why MRSA and other super-bugs are so prevalent is the widespread misuse of antibiotics. They are given to livestock which also doesn't help.

What happens is that (courtesy of evolution) the antibiotics cause the bacteria to adapt to become resistant. There are so few really effective antibiotics available now due to misuse.

If you have a cold or flu then don't take antibiotics, they don't work and they further regress the medical world back to the pre-penicillin days.

11
0

Money is made from antibiotics

A seven day course of Amoxcillin costs the Pharmacy about 52p It is dispensed at £7.20. This money goes to off-set the more expensive treatments.

My wife's work (Dentistry) issues private prescriptions which they fill at the reception desk with pre-packed antibiotics that sell to the patients at full prescription cost, but even then 1. You need a prescription & 2. You only get a prescription if you really need it.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Um...

You're supposed to get them on prescription. If you've been sold them without prescription, it's because the chemist was more interested in a sale than anything else (and they usually are).

Hint: 'con receta' on the packet means it should be sold only on prescription.

0
0
Silver badge

While I see the point of your argument

...I'm not totally convinced that is actually what's happening in the real world. I've not been able to dig up any recent statistics; but the 2002 ones that are all over the net and those put UK incidence of MRSA at somewhat under double that of Spain...if your theory were correct the converse would be true and Spain should be blowing the UK statistics out of the water due to 'uncontrolled' antibiotic use.

Therefore, unless Spanish people are unusually wise or UK doctors are extroadinarily incompetent, there's some other factors at work here.

There's 5 that I can think of:

1) The pharmacist can veto selling you anything, and in Spain people often hit the pharmacist rather than a doctors for minor stuff. So if it's a clear case where antibiotics wouldn't do any good, you won't get them.

2) The antibiotics available are strictly limited (Amoxcillin mostly) with the heavyweights being reserved for hospitals and other places that they are needed. The case could be argued that much of the damage is already done for these common classes of antibiotics

3) If you wait until the pharmacists is clear, your disease vector is 1 pharmacist and your immediate family. In the UK the vector is 1x doctor, 1x pharmacist, everyone in the doctor's waiting room and anyone in Boots (unless your GP has a pharmacy built in), plus your immediate family. Whatever you have a dose of -antibiotic-restant or not- minimising exposure in this way HAS to be a good thing and -I would contend- more than offsets any damage done by allowing people to make their own decisions (double-checked by a pharmacist)

4) A course of antibiotics costs €7-20, so it's not like we put it on our cornflakes. There will be a percentage who misuse the responsibility, like normal, but in the UK you'll still have that same percentage and in that case they will be wasting a GP's time while they are about it and will probably still get prescribed something, just to get them out of the surgery with a sense that something has been done.

5) Not everyone is an idiot. According to ECDC

http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/activities/surveillance/EARS-Net/Pages/index.aspx

...nearly 40% of Europeans are aware that this is a problem and you can be pretty sure that pharmacists are among that number. So there is an amount of regulation; but you don't have to waste a GP's valuable time to invoke it and it was this -rather than self-diagnosis with gleeful abandon- that was my point.

You can also buy butterfly stitches and burn salve over the counter and so my DIY needs are covered. I haven't needed to see a doctor in six years.

1
4
Bronze badge

And the thing that this post shows...

is that we will always need doctors

0
0
Coat

This morning I must have woken up on a different planet

I know I did because I read a positive story in El Reg on an NHS IT subject.

< I'll get my scrubs

4
0
Silver badge

Blimey

A Govt IT good news story? That makes a change. What a world we live in!

1
0
Anonymous Coward

My quest for antibiotics

I searched the NHS website for bubonic plague and got no results. It asked me whether I meant "bubonic plaque" so I clicked on that and got no results again.

Then I searched for buboes and got no help at all.

At 46p a click, I think it's very poor value.

0
0
Pirate

What about Seniors, do they pay?

Do the old folk have to pay, or does everyone get to pay? And by what means?

Anyone have a URL?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Hmmm.

"Research from Imperial College, based on an online questionnaire completed by 4,000 patients, found that 37 per cent believed using the service reduced their use of GP services. This equates to savings of £44m in unnecessary appointments."

I'm pretty sure savings in GP services aren't contingent upon what people believe, but upon what actually happens. To prove there are actual savings what you'd need to do is find out - for each person in the 37% above - who their GP is, what their GP-attendence record is, when they accessed the website, and how that affected their attendence record.

Also - what about those people who attended their GP /because/ they used the website? Shouldn't that cost be offset against the savings mentioned previously?

Also - any survey of a very small proportion of a large group will likely be subject to large margin of error. As of 2003 there were about 6¼ million GP appointments per year (source: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1335). 4,000 / 6,250,000 * 100 = 0.064% of the total number of GP appointments. Which is approximately equivalent to interviewing noone and just guessing a figure.

I'm not saying the website's a waste of time (far from it - I've used it myself), I'm just questioning whether the research justifies the conclusions being drawn from it.

1
0
Thumb Down

Voodoo economics

The costs involved are semi-fixed.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.