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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