Reid announces changes to long-term conditions care

Health secretary John Reid today pledged to have 3,000 community
matrons in place by March 2007, in a bid to improve the health and
quality of life for people with long-term conditions,
writes Clare Jerrom.

John Reid

These new types of health professionals will be responsible for
providing one-to-one support to the most vulnerable patients with
long-term conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis. They will
monitor their patient’s health and co-ordinate the care and
support they need.

“We expect the new long term conditions model to be fully
incorporated into the way the NHS and social care deliver care to
people with long-term conditions,” said Reid. “This
will involve organisational change in some areas, but these changes
will be vital to the health of many patients and will ultimately
save lives.”

The new model is intended to keep people out of hospital and
prevent premature deaths. There are currently 17.5 million people
in the UK suffering from one or more long term conditions.

NHS and social care organisations will begin implementing the
new model from now on and will:-

• assign community matrons to the most vulnerable patients
with complex and multiple long-term conditions

• establish multi-professional teams that can identify
people in the area with a single serious long-term condition,
assess their needs and provide pro-active care before their
condition deteriorates

• educate people with long-term conditions and encourage them
to manage their own care more effectively

The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors
Association director, Mark Jones, welcomed the announcement as a
“structured and robust approach to care management in primary

However, Dr Hamish Meldrum, chair of the British Medical
Association’s GPs committee said: “If the idea of
community matrons is going to work, they have to be fully
integrated into primary care, working with general practice, and
not at cross-purposes.”

“The government is already investing additional resources
via the new GP contract, funding family doctors to do precisely
this work.

“If this initiative provides additional resources to do
that, it will be a positive move, but if it is starting up a
separate service there is a danger it will duplicate the efforts of
everyone involved,” he warned.

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