The BMA is launching a new poster campaign to support patients to get the help they need over the winter period.
The posters, distributed to all GP practices across the UK, are designed to encourage patients to self-care, for example when suffering from colds or sore throats, when appropriate rather than visiting their local GP or A&E.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s General Practice Committee, said: “GP practices across the UK are bracing themselves for what will no doubt be another busy winter as illnesses associated with the cold weather drive up demand on appointments and home visits. GPs are already working hard to prepare, for example immunising older and at risk patients against flu, but as with previous years we expect this winter to be tough.
“This does not mean that GPs want to turn their patients away. Every patient who needs to see their GP will be seen. But we also understand that sometimes an appointment may not be required, which is why we want to empower them to choose the right option, such as treating their symptoms or seeking the advice of a local pharmacist who can help treat colds and flu.
“It is important that patients are aware of the options available to them and the importance that self-care or a visit to a pharmacist can have on reducing the increasing winter pressures on GPs and the wider NHS, but if symptoms do persist or if you are in any doubt, please do visit your GP.”