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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
'Improve' care for long-term ill
Image of insulin
Chronic disease patients take up 60% of GP consultations
Campaigners have drawn up a "manifesto" to improve the treatment of 17 million people living with long-term conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cancer.

The proposals, put forward by 20 health organisations, call on the main political parties to make chronic disease care more of a priority.

The manifesto says services should be designed more around the patient.

The plan, '17 million reasons', was drawn up in consultation with patients, clinicians and social services.

It says patients need rapid access to diagnosis and an assessment of their different needs.

The group also wants patients to be "put in the driving seat" with proper access to information and advice to help them maximise their quality of life.

Individual

In particular, the manifesto says each individual should be given a care plan to make sure patients "have the care they need when they need it".

Nearly half of people with long-term conditions have more than one illness.

And people with chronic illnesses take up 60% of GP consultations and 60% of hospital beds.

Chronic illness
There are over 17m people with long-term illnesses, such as diabetes and cancer
Nearly half have more than one condition
Sufferers take up 60% of GP appointments
They also occupy 60% of hospital beds

David Pink, chief executive of the Long-term Medical Conditions Alliance, an umbrella body for voluntary organisations working with people with long-term illnesses, said a change in tact was needed.

"We have already seen waiting lists for operations successfully reduced to below one million, but there are over 17 million people in the UK currently living with long-term conditions such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis, MS or cancer.

Priority

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Mr Pink added: "The priority for all three political parties must now be to improve the lives of one third of the population.

"We need a health debate that talks less about emergency care and more about what millions of people are living with day in, day out."

The group, whose members include the NHS Confederation, Diabetes UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, wants all the political parties to include their proposals in their general election manifestos.

The government is already targeting chronic diseases by aiming to recruit more than 3,000 "community matrons" by 2008 to care for people with long-term illness and act as a first point of call for them.

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "People with-long term medical conditions have been overlooked by the NHS for too long.

"With more people than ever before living with, rather than dying from, their disease, it is essential that the NHS focuses on their needs.

"People deserve to get a speedy diagnosis, access to reliable information and the help and support they need to take charge of their health and manage their disease."


SEE ALSO:
Many face needless asthma misery
20 Jul 04  |  Health
'Community matrons' planned
08 Jun 04  |  Health
GPs' attitude 'may hinder care'
27 May 04  |  Health


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