Care strategy will target chronically ill

    People with long-term conditions need more co-ordinated health
    and social care to stop them falling between services and to reduce
    unnecessary hospital admissions.

    That was the message from health secretary John Reid last week,
    as he unveiled the government’s blueprint for supporting the
    estimated 17.5 million people across the UK with chronic

    Primary care trusts will take the lead in drawing up local plans
    to provide co-ordinated community health and social care for people
    with conditions including arthritis, diabetes and multiple

    The centrepiece of the system will be 3,000 community matrons –
    senior district nurses who will co-ordinate the social care and
    health needs of the 250,000 people with the most serious long-term
    conditions. People with less serious conditions will be helped to
    support themselves.

    The policy is driven by the government’s target of reducing
    emergency bed use in hospitals by 5 per cent by 2008, and reflects
    ministers’ beliefs that community services for people with
    long-term conditions are often unplanned and reactive.

    Currently, 10 per cent of patients, many of whom have long-term
    conditions, account for more than half of hospital stays.

    Association of Directors of Social Services president Tony
    Hunter backed the policy, saying: “Anything that shores up joint
    working [between health and social services] on the ground is to be

    “More generally, anything that supports work in the community to
    reduce pressures on hospitals has got to be a good thing.”

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