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NHS Choices states that “Self care means knowing how to keep fit and healthy, how to deal with medicines appropriately, manage self-treatable conditions and when to seek appropriate clinical help.” For example, people can often take care of themselves when they have common symptoms such as sore throats or coughs by using over-the-counter medicines.  The same is true for some long term conditions where people often self-manage, with support from health professionals.

Self-care week is managed and promoted by the Self Care Forum, an organisation which seeks to embed approaches to self care into everyday life and to educate and empower people to manage their own health and wellbeing. The Self Care Forum has been running its annual awareness campaign since 2011. This year, self-care week is taking place from 14-20 of November 2016 and the theme is ‘understanding self care for life’.

The Self Care Forum has produced a range of promotional literature including posters, leaflets and a communication pack to help NHS services and other organisations raise awareness of self-care week locally. These materials are freely available from its website and can be found at the following link:

As in previous years, NHS England is promoting Self Care Week and the ‘self care for life’ campaign.  The NHS Five Year Forward View set out a central ambition for the NHS to become better at helping people to manage their own health: ‘staying healthy, making informed choices of treatment, managing conditions and avoiding complications’. To meet this commitment, NHS England has established a ‘Self-Care programme’ to scale-up support for people living with long-term conditions (LTCs) to manage their own health and wellbeing, empower them to make decisions about their health and care whilst delivering financial benefit to the wider healthcare system as part of the £22bn efficiency challenge.

NHS England’s Urgent and Emergency Care Review proposed a number of changes to the way urgent and emergency care services are provided, including enhancing support for self care. As part of the Review’s recommendation that more care should be delivered closer to home, where clinically appropriate, it called for more easily-accessible information for patients to self-care. The Review highlighted that providing information to the public on self care will assist those with minor ailments and long term conditions. In particular the Review recommended that local areas should consider a “common clinical advice hub across NHS 111, ambulance services and out-of-hours GPs … to support clinical review and help patients with self care advice to avoid onward referral (see NHS England, Safer, Faster, Better: good practice in delivering urgent and emergency care. A Guide for local health and social care communities, August 2015).

In October 2015 NHS England announced that delivery of NHS 111 and GP Out of Hours services are to be brought closer together to provide patients with a “new front door” to urgent health care services:

Timescales for the re-procurement of NHS 111 and GP Out of Hours vary across the country, depending on contract end dates.

Other sources of information on self care include community services, primary care practitioners (including GPs and community pharmacists), and the NHS Choices website.

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