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Gaps in healthcare for patients living with multiple conditions


7 November 2016

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A new report from the Royal College of General Practitioners reviews how effectively the current health system serves patients living with multiple long-term conditions.

College analysis has revealed that the number of people living with one or more serious, long-term conditions in the UK will increase by nearly one million to 9.1m by 2025.

The RCGP estimates that the ageing population, with more and more patients living with multiple, long-term conditions could cost general practice an extra £1.2 billion a year over the next decade.

A new report from the Royal College of General Practitioners reviews how effectively the current health system serves patients living with multiple long-term conditions.

College analysis has revealed that the number of people living with one or more serious, long-term conditions in the UK will increase by nearly one million to 9.1m by 2025.

The RCGP estimates that the ageing population, with more and more patients living with multiple, long-term conditions could cost general practice an extra £1.2 billion a year over the next decade.

The report explores the experiences of these patients, casting a spotlight over the barriers that exist to improve their care, and recommendations to overcome these.

Barriers mentioned in the report include a lack of time and resources for GPs to deliver the care patients need, and the growing inadequacy of the standard 10-minute consultation.

The report looks at innovative ways of working and the impact they have had on the quality of care received by patients with multiple long-term conditions, such as longer consultation times for those who need them, collaborative care and support planning, and the role of multidisciplinary teams in caring for patients with complex needs.

On a larger scale, the report recommends improving communication between primary and secondary care professionals, increasing exposure of delivering care to patients with multimorbidities in GP training, and the development of improved decision making tools.

Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: “While the general population is now living longer than ever – which is something to be celebrated and indeed a testament to our health service – the number of patients living with multiple long-term conditions is increasing.

“Yet currently, care is mostly channelled towards single disease conditions, resulting in a vast number of our patients receiving fragmented care. We need to tailor the services the NHS provides to better suit our patients’ changing needs.

“It is important that we support collaboration between GPs and our teams and specialists, and enable better communication between the primary and secondary care sectors by adopting improved IT systems.

“We must also review performance related payments that relate to disease specific targets with the aim of developing alternatives, and we need to conduct more research into understanding the experiences and outcomes of those living with multiple long-term conditions to enable us to provide the best possible care for these patients.”

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