60% of patients say life compromised by long-term illness

60% of patients say life compromised by long-term illness

The report Vital Signs: Taking the temperature of health and social care for services for people living with long term conditions paints a varied picture of the quality of care provided for the 15 million people in England (1 in 4) who live with at least one long-term condition.

The NHS spends around £75bn a year treating people with such conditions, which accounts for £7 in every £10 spent by the health service, says the report by The Richmond Group, a coalition of charities including Diabetes UK, Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Asthma UK, British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association.

The authors argue that the state of care is inconsistent and not enough people get the care and support they need to live well.

According to the authors, around 60% of patients say their condition limits what they can do in their daily life.

Long-term condition are a huge challenge for the NHS, given that they account for half of all GP appointments and 70% of hospital bed days, says the report, so the NHS needs to improve its record on this area of care to improve peoples’ lives and to save NHS money.

Although there were areas of excellent care, these were overshadowed by dangerous gaps in diagnosis, treatment, support and coordination of care for patients, said the authors, with serious consequences.

Many (80%) of diabetes-related amputations could be avoided if individuals had access to the right care and support, they argued, and similarly, 8 out of 10 people with asthma were not receiving care that met the most basic clinical standards, despite two out of three asthma deaths being preventable with better routine care.

The report concludes that more needs to be done to ensure all people living with long-term conditions received the care and support they needed.

“Over the next five years the real test of government and NHS leaders at all levels of the system will be whether the gaps we highlight here become a thing of the past and how local services are held to account. This is the bench mark by which we will be judging their success,” says the report.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Too often, we are failing to provide the right level of care and support needed by people with long-term conditions and as a direct result of inadequate care their health is being put at greater risk with devastating consequences.

“For example we are seeing people with diabetes lose limbs when an amputation could have been prevented, and people with asthma are dying unnecessarily.”

Tom Wright, chief executive of Age UK and chair of The Richmond Group, said: “We have known for some time what needs to happen to support people with long-term conditions to survive and thrive, so the challenge is putting that knowledge into practice for everyone, right across the NHS and within social care.”

By Adrian O'Dowd,

OnMedica, Friday 20 March 2015

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