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UK NHS needs to rethink long-term care

MPs call for system change as chronic conditions account for 70 per cent of yearly healthcare spend
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An advisory committee to the UK Government has called for an overhaul to the healthcare system to better support people with long-term conditions.

The House of Commons Health Committee published a report last week that claims 70 per cent of annual NHS expenditure in England in spent on managing long-term conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis and asthma.

The Committee reported that demographic and cost pressures on the NHS from patients with long-term conditions will increase in the coming years, with one projection estimating that the bill for treatment of long-term conditions will require the NHS to find £4bn more each year by 2016. 

Compounding this is the increasing prevalence of comorbidities, where patients live with two or more long-term conditions, complicating treatment and adding to its cost. According to the Committee, these multimorbidities are not adequately recognised in a system set up to address single diseases – a thought backed up by David Haslam, chair of NICE.

The Committee recommended that definitions should be reviewed and approaches changed to emphasise the importance of treating the person, not the condition.

The report also supports the integration of the health and social care system, in order to provide better and more effective care for people with long-term conditions. Greater integration within the NHS is needed to coordinate treatments, streamline care and ensure that patients with complex requirements are not passed from pillar to post.

Individual care planning for people with long-term conditions is needed, based on the principles demonstrated in the NHS House of Care programme. Patients will get a greater say in their treatment and will be able to discuss what works best for them.

The Committee also looked at the prevailing view that services to treat long-term conditions should be moved out of hospitals and into primary and community care, and found that, while such changes might lead to more effective care, the case for economic benefits to the NHS is not yet proven

The report concluded that effective management of long-term conditions has implications beyond the health and care system. It requires collaboration with other government providers, such as housing and transport services, to ensure that patients are properly supported.

8th July 2014

From: Healthcare

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