Chief executive of the CCA, Malcolm Harrison, has co-signed an open letter, published in the Times today calling on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay MP, to develop and implement a national self care strategy.
Out of necessity, the Government actively encouraged self care during the pandemic. In response, health care providers implemented new tools and processes, such as digital symptom checkers and triage platforms, to allow people to care for themselves. As a result, more people than ever chose to self care, leading to a long-term shift in public attitudes. In a 2022 public survey, 73% of respondents agreed that the NHS should make it easier for people to care for themselves without using GP services or A&E.
However, as attention has turned to the NHS’s recovery, progress on self care has stalled. Innovations introduced during the pandemic are no longer being used to their full potential and disjointed policies, along with a lack of political focus on self care, are preventing people from managing their health. Whilst the Secretary of State’s plans to expand the role of community pharmacies are a promising start, a more holistic, system-wide approach is required to maximise the prize. Today’s letter in the Times highlights this and makes the case for a national self care strategy to deliver the kind of focused action that is now urgently required.
In October last year, the Self Care Strategy Group, of which the CCA is a member, published a blueprint for a self care strategy in England which recommends:
- Enhancing the role of community pharmacists by allowing them to refer to other healthcare professionals and to access and contribute to shared medical records
- Ensuring the school curriculum educates children on when and how to self care
- Making better use of digital technology and trusted information to facilitate self care
Since its publication, the blueprint has been praised in Parliament by MPs and Peers from different political parties who have urged the Government to introduce a national self care strategy. Given this, and today’s letter in the Times, we hope the Government will take note of the sector’s calls and seize the opportunity to truly embed self care across the NHS.
For more information about the Self Care Strategy Group and the blueprint for a self care strategy in England, visit selfcarestrategy.org.