Press release

Innovative care could help over 15 million people with long-term conditions

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The NHS could help improve the care of over 15 million people living with long-term conditions and reduce the number of unnecessary trips to hospital if the most innovative work being pioneered in other parts of the NHS were adopted nationwide.

In addition to helping patients manage their conditions better and reducing distressing emergency episodes, new approaches to reduce ambulance call-outs by over 900,000 and hospital bed days by over 10.2 million can deliver huge savings - an estimated £2.2 billion to reinvest in frontline patient care, helping to meet the rising demands our NHS faces.

People with long-term conditions are some of the most frequent users of the NHS. In 2009-10, an estimated £70 billion of total health and social care expenditure was spent on patients with long-term conditions. The number of people with a long-term condition is set to rise to around 18 million within 20 years - combine this with our ageing population and the NHS faces even greater pressures.

People living with long-term conditions currently account for:

  • 50 per cent of all GP appointments;
  • 64 per cent of outpatient attendances; and
  • 77 per cent of all hospital bed days.

Plans to modernise the way the NHS works will encourage a more integrated approach to patient care and help personalise services to the needs of individual patients. Clinicians from the ambulance service, hospitals and GPs and nurses from Kirklees in West Yorkshire are already leading the way by working together to identify patients who frequently use emergency services in order to help them manage their condition better and avoid unnecessary hospital visits.

Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley said:

“We have a vital opportunity now to modernise the NHS. People with long-term conditions have some of the most complex health needs in the country and we need to personalise services to suit their needs, not fit them around how the NHS is organised. We want clinicians to take the lead locally in developing health services so that they can support patients, to take decisions about their care and help them take charge of their health and the care they receive. With this approach, they will find new ways to tackle this problem for both the NHS and patients.

“I know the NHS can work more efficiently to improve care for their local communities, as it has shown in West Yorkshire. It is innovative changes like this that will help us create a modern NHS that can respond to 21st century needs.”

Today, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will meet clinicians from Kirklees to see how their inventive joined-up approach of sharing information on a patient’s full clinical needs helps develop more tailored treatment and care options. Electronic patient records enable these to be seen by any health professional treating the patient.

Emergency care plans are also saved on this record and given to the patient as a hardcopy to ensure that no decision is made about them without them.

This initiative has reduced ambulance trips by 16 per cent and saved NHS Kirklees £1.09 million - improvements which could easily be seen around the country.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The NHS White Paper - Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS
  2. The estimated number of people with long-term conditions is derived from the GP patient survey Jan-Dec 2011, scaled to General Lifestyle Survey 2009.
  3. The statistics on possible savings from ambulance journeys apply the reduction achieved in Kirklees (16 per cent reduction) to the total number of ambulance journeys in the Primary Care Trust(s) containing that city. The source is a Health Service Journal investigation 2008-09.The average cost of an ambulance journey is a weighted average of the unit cost of ambulance incidents across categories A, B & C from Department of Health reference costs 2009-10.
  4. The source of data on emergency bed days is Hospital Episode Statistics 2009-10. “long-term conditions” is defined in the same way as the Department’s indicator on “Emergency admissions for long-term conditions” SQU29, see Technical guidance for the 2011/12 Operating Framework for more information.
  5. Savings from reductions in hospital bed days assumes an average daily cost of a bed day to be £200.