Quit smoking, lose weight and you could help the NHS in West Norfolk save vital cash says Upwell GP Dr Paul Williams

Lose weight, stop smoking and buy your own painkillers are just some of the measures being prescribed by an Upwell doctor to help the local NHS save money.

Dr Paul Williams, chairman of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group wants residents to make life-changes that could help save the health-body, which has highlighted its need to make significant savings in recent weeks, up to £6 million.

Dr Williams said: “The population of West Norfolk are among the top 10 per cent nationally for levels of morbid obesity and smoking; 26.4 per cent of the population are in one or other or both of these categories.

“There are several ways people can help to make the changes that are needed to improve their own health and support the frontline clinical and nursing teams in West Norfolk.

“The local NHS in collaboration with Public Health already provide services to help people lose weight and stop smoking, which are available both through the GP and often by self-referral. We plan to focus these services especially at people who are particularly at risk because of their weight or smoking.

“The CCG will offer support to people referred for surgery to help them lose weight and stop smoking before the operation, which will improve the outcomes for the patient and delivering savings up to £4 million.

Dr Williams, added: “Over the years I have seen lots of people not do as well following surgery as they expected, a lot of the time that is because of complications around the surgery due to their weight or smoking, I would encourage anyone to do their best to lose weight and stop smoking before undergoing elective surgery.”

The CCG also want the public to think carefully about their needs and options when they need help with minor ailments. Visiting a pharmacist and buying over the counter medications for minor ailments such as hay fever, colds and indigestion instead of taking a GP appointment to get a prescription for these type of problems could save the local NHS about £2 million as well as reducing the work load for busy GPs.

Dr Williams said: “A packet of 32 paracetamol costs around 38p when bought at a shop while it costs the tax payers of West Norfolk £1.88 to prescribe the same drug.”

He continued: “We will shortly be starting the hay fever season where lots of us will experience sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes due to pollen levels in the air.

“The majority of people can control their symptoms by using simple drugs available over the counter such as anti-histamine tablets and steroid nasal sprays. This year we are again asking GPs not to prescribe for mild to moderate hay fever and direct patients to go to their local pharmacy for advice and over the counter drugs. Severe cases will still be treated by the GP.”

For more advice and support on how to quit smoking call 0800 0854 113 or visit www.smokefreenorfolk.nhs.uk

If you would like to learn more about how you could live a healthier lifestyle go to: www.nhs.uk/change4life