Figures from the NHS Choices website released on 6 January 2011 show that people are increasingly willing to try to care for their cold or flu episodes themselves rather than going straight to the GP for advice.
There were 50,000 searches for flu information on the NHS Choices website compared to just 3,800 in 2009.
This news is a positive indicator that people are increasingly interested in getting information to self care at home. The results of a YouGov poll (commissioned by Samedaydoctor), found that people are not visiting their GP because appointments are given too late, with almost a quarter of people polled no longer attempting to book an appointment at their family doctor.
The YouGov survey also showed that people reported their consultation times were too short. These findings support the view of the Self Care Campaign which notes that 18% of GP time is taken up with patients presenting with symptoms that could have been handled through self-care at home. This would then free up GP time to see people who need more urgent or longer appointments.
Gopa Mitra, Director of policy and public affairs at PAGB said: "The news that people are looking for information on how to care at home is encouraging for the future of self-care. What we need now is the promotion of good, easy to understand information about when it is safe to self-care for symptoms like colds and flu and when it is absolutely necessary to see the doctor."
She added: "In the current climate it is important that GP time is freed up to ensure that people with more complicated needs or long-term conditions can be seen".