Professional organisations representing UK doctors and nurses have welcomed the launch of a new NHS England campaign that underlines the importance of early treatment.
Entitled The Earlier, The Better, the public awareness initiative commenced this week and is set to run for eight weeks through to March 2014. It aims to educate patients on the importance of seeking medical advice on any problems they may have at the earliest possible juncture.
The campaign will be carried out through extensive poster placements across the country, including in public places and near to community health facilities, while a print and radio advertising push has also commenced.
Particularly targeting vulnerable people over the age of 60, the posters and ads will inform the public of the need to avoid ignoring health issues and get them seen to early in order to avoid potential hospitalisation later on.
It will raise awareness of the benefits of speaking to GPs rather than attending A&E, while also highlighting the self-care resources available through the NHS Choices website and the various services provided by community pharmacies.
The overall aim will be to reduce the number of unnecessary emergency admissions to NHS hospitals each year and foster a more proactive approach to handling long-term illness.
Professor Keith Willett, NHS England's director for acute care, said: "We have to do better at helping people stay well, not just picking up the pieces when they fall seriously ill."
The Royal College of GPs has welcomed the new campaign, saying self care is a vital tool in helping people with chronic conditions to take control of their own lives, as well as reducing workloads for GPs.
Meanwhile, the NHS Confederation described this as an important step in making sure the extensive healthcare expertise in the NHS that exists outside of emergency departments is fully utilised by patients.
Dr Karen Castille, chair of the confederation's urgent and emergency care forum, said it will also ensure that A&E departments can focus their full attention and resources on caring for people with genuinely urgent needs.
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