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May 2019

Award-winning programme cuts demand for healthcare

An East London GP practice has won the BMJ Primary Care Team of the Year Award for a programme to teach parents how to manage minor ailments, such as fever, diarrhoea, coughs and colds. Over 300 families have so far taken part and there has been a 35% reduction in health service attendance for minor ailments.

The BMJ Awards are the UK’s premier medical awards programme, designed to reflect The BMJ’s mission to improve patient outcomes and to recognise outstanding work done by doctors and their clinical teams around the UK.

Bromley by Bow Health serves one of the most deprived wards in London. It has a relatively high rate of new births and under-5s make up approximately 5% of the list size.

‘We realised some parents kept bringing their children to the GP for minor ailments because they didn’t have the right knowledge or confidence,’ says GP Dr Khyati Bakhai. Some parents felt isolated and didn’t have family around them to offer support or advice.

Dr Bakhai worked with the Patient First manager, Emma Cassells, parents and other stakeholders to produce a peer-to-peer learning programme called DIY Health.

The programme consists of 8 to 12 two-hour sessions and is facilitated by a non-clinical team member. Topics covered have included management of fever, diarrhoea, skin conditions, and coughs and colds. Play specialists from the local children’s centre support the programme, which caters for up to 12 parents per session.

Since September 2013 over 300 families have taken part in DIY Health. The scheme has trained several parents who can now facilitate the programme and has produced a free toolkit for others who want to develop such an initiative at

There has been a 35% reduction in attendance for minor ailments to GPs, emergency departments, out-of-hours clinics, and walk-in centres in the 12 months following the programme. ‘Parents are more confident in managing minor ailments,’ says Dr Bakhai. ‘They have also formed community connections and this has improved their wellbeing.’