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Nurses pivotal in vital drive to boost 'self care' by patients

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Nurses can play a pivotal role in encouraging patients to start taking control of their own health and, as a result, safeguard the NHS for future generations, according to a group of primary care clinicians.

The Self Care Forum, an expert group of nurses and GPs, warned that patients need to take more responsibility for their own care to ease the financial strain on services, noting that long term conditions pose the “greatest burden on the NHS” budget.

It argues that unless primary care practitioners empower patients to self care, the NHS will not be sustainable for future generations

The forum, which was formed in 2011, has members from a range of organisations including the NHS Alliance, Royal College of Nursing and the National Association of Primary Care.

The forum noted that long term conditions were a “key area where nurses can be instrumental in promoting self care”.

Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “Nurses are leading the way in empowering people to take care of themselves.

“We want to move towards a situation where patients know how to manage common ailments and their conditions and know what help is available when it is needed, so that expert health staff are able to support those in the greatest need.”

Sara Richards, a specialist primary care nurse with Slough Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “Patients only see a nurse or GP for perhaps six hours a year and the rest of the time they’re self caring.

“Not only does it boost patients’ self-esteem to be in control of their condition, but it also improves their health if they manage their long-term conditions well.”

The forum has published an action plan – Save our NHS: Time for Action on Self Care – and accompanying “how to” resource pack to encourage and support general practices to adopt a self care strategy.

The pack includes a set of minor ailments factsheets designed to give patients confidence in managing common conditions for themselves.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The fact remains that there are some people, particularly, but not exclusively the elderly, who do not want to be self caring and who use illness/neediness as a way of "buying" attention.

    As a Primary Care practitioner I have certainly tried hard to empower and encourage my patients to be self caring. And consequently have reaped many complaints to Management because the patients fear correctly that they will not see so much of me/ or my team as a result. They do not perceive self care as empowering or in their own best interests at all but rationing of the NHS. Management cave in to the wails of the patients, because they do not want complaints do not support the Practitioner at all.

    This "self caring approach" will only work when the individual is a happy, independent person who has a good social life and plenty of support which is not solely health based.

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