I'm worried about my dandruff... and other gripes GPs are sick of hearing

Thousands of people are visiting their GPs unnecessarily to ask about ailments from dandruff to travel sickness, the NHS has revealed, as it launches a project to try and cut out needless visits to doctors' surgeries.

The NHS launched its nationwide project as it revealed research showing that 40,000 people visit their doctor because they are worried about dandruff, while a further 20,000 go to their local surgery for travel sickness.

One of the largest unnecessary causes of visits was the common cold – with the study finding 5.2 million visits by patients with a blocked nose.

The survey – which was carried out by analysing records from more than 200 GP surgeries around the country – found almost one in five appointments was for a very minor problem, equating to more than 51 million unnecessary visits to the GP every year.

Doctors believe that if such trips could be curtailed waiting times would be cut, millions of pounds would be saved from the NHS budget and patients would get faster and more convenient treatment.

Dr Paul Stillman, a GP in Crawley, West Sussex, and a member of the National Self Care Forum said: "What we think so far is that patients tend to use the same source of advice whatever the symptoms. So they'll either go to their GP for everything, or always go to their pharmacist, or phone NHS Direct. "We want to test this theory on a larger number of people to try and identify ways of getting them to alter their behaviour."

Dr Stillman said one of the areas they were hoping to look at was bringing back basic health education into schools as long-term way to address awareness. "In the past there would usually be someone older and wiser in your extended family you could go to get advise but that appears to have broken down somewhat.

"It may be that we need to start at the roots and work up by educating the next generation about some of these issues. But he added that the primary motivation was not about saving money. "That would obviously be a good thing. We do have a population growing older in England and it does mean we need to take steps so that we can focus more resources on these potentially vulnerable groups of people.

"But it is also about giving patients the knowledge so they can get the fastest and best suited treatment and advice."

Stephanie Varah, the chief executive of the National Association for Patient Participation, is the patient champion for the national Self Care Forum: "Empowering individuals to access and understand appropriate information that supports shared and informed decision making about treatment, self care and lifestyle choices is key to helping people understand how they can better look after themselves."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "It is important that people get the right advice and care from the right health professional, in the right place, at the right time.

"People with a minor ailment can visit their local pharmacist, who is a qualified health professional and will be able to offer advice and support or direct them to see their GP."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    English Teacher

    £110 - £130 per day + ?110 - 130: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher ...

    KS2 Teacher with SEN responsibilities

    £115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS2 teacher with SEN responsibi...

    Administrative Assistant

    £60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

    Web Application Support Manager

    £60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments