Self Care Is Good For You – And Eases Pressure on NHS

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Simon Bowers has been a GP in South Liverpool for 13 years. He comes us to each month to talk about all things health. Follow him on Twitter @sibowers
MODERN life makes it so difficult to look after ourselves and increasing levels of need in society has put our health and social care systems under massive pressure. Therefore, there’s a real need for us to do Self-Care much better than we currently do. There’s loads of support available to encourage patients to self-care, particularly those with long term conditions such as asthma or diabetes. Self-Care can be the ONLY care you need for some minor short-term ailments. We’ve become far too reliant on the NHS for things that are safe and easy to do to help ourselves. Check out the self-care information on the NHS Choices website or see the Examine Your Options section of Liverpool CCG’s website: www.liverpoolccg.nhs.uk As well as this, in Liverpool we are really promoting ‘shared decision making’ in which we will work together with a patient to decide the best type of treatment and how it’s undertaken. We don’t give “doctor’s orders” anymore. Try asking your doctor or nurse these 3 questions: What are my options? What are the pros and cons of each option for me? How do I get support and advice to help me to make a decision that’s right for me? Everyone wants control of their own health – and far from passing the buck we are actually giving more control to patients. You’ll also find you get more of what you need from your NHS this way. Advice on prescription  A lot of the things that make us feel unwell are nothing at all to do with our hearts, brain, kidneys or any physical health problem. We’ve known for a long time that the greatest markers of wellbeing are things like housing, employment, benefits or debts. Recent years have seen our Citizens Advice Bureaus lose their funding and communities suffer. NOT IN LIVERPOOL! If you’re registered with a Liverpool GP you can now get Advice on Prescription – a referral from your surgery to CAB to help deal with life’s difficult non-medical problems that make us feel unwell. Old wives’ tales 1) Vinegar dries your blood. This was one of my nan’s. Your blood is mostly made-up of water and vinegar mixes well with water so no effect at all. Sorry, Nan! 2) Eating crusts gives you curly hair Nope. This is controlled by your DNA or your hairdresser. Not what you eat. Dear Doctor I recently visited my GP due to having a chesty cough and after we had talked about this, she asked me all sorts of questions about exercise. She wanted to know the ins and outs of how often I exercise, whether I walk or drive to work and also what I do with my children exercise-wise. A friend of mine said she had the same experience with her own GP and I was wondering why we are being asked all this stuff? Sarah Night South Liverpool Dear Sarah We’ve spent years trying to unlock the many secrets to staying healthy and we finally have clear evidence for the ENORMOUS benefits of staying physically active. You will note I didn’t call it exercise. This is not about being a gym-addict or having a footballer’s physique. We know that 30 minutes of walking 5 times a week delivers protection against heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and arthritis greater than any drug I prescribe. So our doctors and nurses are really interested in how active you are and want to support you to make physical activity part of your daily life.