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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