Since March 2020, the world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic which has left us all stuck at home and our freedoms restricted like never before. It is probably safe to assume that no area of modern day life has been left undisrupted. From the economy, to how we spend our free time, and there is no one in the UK that has now not heard of Zoom!
However, the NHS has taken the brunt of the pandemic like no other area of life. From the NHS being overstretched and overworked while trying to save the lives of COVID-19 patients, to the knock on effect that the pandemic has had on the treatment for other illnesses, our healthcare system has taken the heaviest burden.
So, even as Boris sets out our route out of lockdown and we can see our return to ‘normal’ in the distant future, there are still concerns on how much pressure will still be left on the NHS. So, here are a few ways that us Brits can make better informed decisions, and protect the NHS from a post-pandemic strain on resources and staff.
Think twice before booking a doctors appointment
The minute we start to feel a little under the weather it can be all too tempting to ring up your local GP surgery and book an appointment with your doctor. However, if we want to ease the strain that has been put on the NHS by the COVID-19 pandemic then we need to only book a GP appointment if it is really necessary.
Many patients are heading to the doctors surgery for common and routine illnesses such as a cold, which can only be treated by over the counter medication and there is nothing extra that the doctor can prescribe. It is important that you consider how urgent your ailment is before picking up the phone to your doctors, as you may be able to recover at home without medical attention. However, it goes without saying that if your condition worsens or if you have any concerns you should get in touch with your doctor straight away.
Use online resources
There are now many online resources that you can make the most of when you are feeling under the weather, or are simply just looking for some advice. The NHS website is now full of information on a range of different conditions and illnesses so that you can make sense of any symptoms you may be having. The NHS website will also help you to navigate your condition or illness and let you know at which stage you may need medical attention.
However, it is important to know the difference between seeking medical information using online resources, and looking at unreliable sources that will make you feel more anxious and concerned about your condition. So, be sure to always stick to NHS and government websites when looking for medical information.
Many local GP surgeries also now have their own independent online resources to make the surgery work more efficiently, while also saving appointments for those who truly need it. These resources often include information, an online booking system, or the ability to contact nurses online. So, be sure to enquire at your local surgery about what online resources they have available.
Make the most of your local pharmacist
Many people forget that when it comes to mild illnesses and conditions they can seek expert medical advice from their local pharmacist. Your pharmacist is trained to provide you with information, and to help you find the best medication to help you feel better as soon as possible. Many of us also aren’t aware that your pharmacist can also contact the GP to discuss patients or medicines with them, and they can answer any questions you may have.
Research has found that as much as 10 percent of the average GP doctor’s time is taken up dealing with routine medication matters that could be dealt with by the pharmacist instead. So, by going to your pharmacist for advice, you could be saving the NHS a considerable amount of time and money, while also reducing the pandemic induced strain and backlog for appointments and treatment.
Seek out private medical care
While us Brits have been lucky enough to benefit from the NHS healthcare system for the last 73 years, there are other medical options available to us. In the past many of us have assumed that private healthcare is too expensive and not something that we could afford. But with prices being more reasonable than ever, and the added strain on the NHS meaning that you could be waiting a while for an appointment, more people are opting for private medical care. So, by looking into private healthcare yourself, you could save yourself a lot of time and worry, while also protecting the NHS from added strain.
Protecting the NHS has been a major concern for us all throughout the pandemic. Therefore it is important that individually we all do everything we can to continue to protect it as we get to grips with COVID-19 to ensure that the NHS is there for us for years to come.