A long-term, integrated approach is needed to ease patient care pressures that are set to put the NHS under exceptional strain this winter.
The BMA says it is possible to create a health system that is sufficiently robust to react to the additional demands placed on services during the winter — but this will require the government to take a much longer-term approach to addressing these pressures.
In a new briefing paper, Beating the Effects of Winter Pressures, published today, the BMA also stresses the need for closer working between medical and social services.
The paper examines the causes and effects of winter pressures on the NHS by looking at public health pressures, such as seasonal surge in respiratory infections, and pressures that exist within the health system, such as the current strain on emergency services.
It highlights examples of good practice, such as Derbyshire Health United. This is an integrated care service formed in reaction to winter pressures, where GPs draw up care plans for patients who are most vulnerable to being admitted to hospital.
These plans are shared with all relevant professionals involved in the care of the patient and aim to ensure they get the right care at the right time to prevent hospital admissions.
The briefing is part of a BMA initiative to highlight NHS pressures during the winter months.
Posters have also been produced for the UK’s 9,906 GP practices to advise patients how to take care of themselves when appropriate, by treating the symptoms of colds and flu for example.
BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Every patient who needs to see their GP will be seen. But we also understand that sometimes an appointment may not be required, which is why we want to empower them to choose the right option for them, such as treating their symptoms or seeking the advice of a local pharmacist who can help treat colds and flu.’
Join the debate on Twitter @theBMA using the hashtag #winterpressures
Read Beating the Effects of Winter Pressures
Read about the BMA's work on winter service pressures and download the poster PDFs
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