General practitioner England

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Support self care for patients, says BMA

Doctors should support and educate their patients in the benefits of self care, the BMA is highlighting during a national awareness week.

Self Care Week runs from 16 to 22 November in England with the aim of encouraging patients to take control of their health throughout their lives.

This includes urging patients to understand better how to look after minor ailments and how to prevent ill health through physical and mental well-being.

The BMA is promoting its guidance, which provides tips for patients on what to do to self care for the most common winter illnesses.

BMA patient liaison group chair Catherine Macadam said: ‘Self Care Week is an opportunity for doctors and patients to think about what we can all do to become better at knowing how and when to self care, and when we genuinely need to call on health professionals for support.

‘People may be reluctant to self care because they lack confidence, feel overwhelmed, or give in to the tendency to put things off. Doctors can help by educating their patients, helping them to generate their own solutions and supporting them to take action, harnessing their own resourcefulness.’

Ms Macadam added that this approach can take pressure off primary care, reducing hospital and emergency medicine attendances.

She added that there is also evidence that self care education ‘fundamentally improves the doctor-patient relationship, and allows patients to improve their life skills and take control of other aspects of their lives as well as their health and well-being’.

Read the BMA guidance on self-care

Find out more about Self Care Week