The Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PGAB) has said that patients are misusing GP services for self-treatable conditions, such as seasonal conditions like sore throats, coughs, and colds.

Their survey revealed that 1 in 10 people exaggerate their symptoms in order to obtain a same day GP appointment. According to statistics, 32 percent of people are visiting the doctor instead of a pharmacist. According to the report, some have exaggerated the severity of their symptoms to fast-track an appointment, causing GP waiting times to dramatically increase.

Whilst people are still making GP appointments instead of visiting the pharmicist, 74 percent fear NHS Services will not be available when they are in desperate need of them.

According to the new research released by PGAB, 15 percent of people visited the GP at least once for Norovirus in the past year, equivalent to nearly 10 million visits, despite the NHS advising people to stay at home and avoid visiting the doctor’s surgery for menial reasons.

Chief Executive of PGAB, John Smith, said: “Our latest research adds to the weight of evidence that shows people are still misusing NHS services for self-treatable conditions.”

“With peak cold and flu season upon us, it is crucial people have a better understanding of when they should visit their GP or A&E and when advice and treatment from a local pharmacist would be more appropriate,” he added.

Not only would this save an individual time, but it could also free up an appointment for someone who really needs it.

The study concluded that 24 percent of people said they need more education about how to identify and treat common conditions, whilst 2 percent said a better understanding of the pharmacist’s qualifications would help them feel more confident to trust their advice.

Nearly 50 percent claimed that they would be more likely to visit a pharmacist, instead of a GP, if they knew how much time and money it would save them.

Community Pharmacist, Hemant Patel commented: “The research findings highlight the need for greater awareness of the benefits community pharmacies can offer to them.

“With most people living within 20 minute travel time from their closest pharmacy, visiting a trusted pharmacist for a self- treatable condition is often quicker and more convenient than visiting the GP, especially as you don’t need an appointment,” he added.

Pharmacists can identify when symptoms need to be assessed by a doctor and will signpost you to other NHS services.