RCGP urges more self care in long-term conditions

A new RCGP report seeks to move the focus in care for patients with long-term conditions from clinicians "doing" to "enabling".

Care Planning – Improving the Lives of People with Long Term Conditions provides guidance to help GPs and their teams better support such patients in gaining more control over their health and improving the quality of their lives. It moves the focus from the clinician "doing", to the clinician "enabling" the patient to manage the challenges of their own condition, fully supported by their GP surgery.

People with LTCs account for more than 50 per cent of all general practice appointments, 65 per cent of outpatient appointments and over 70 per cent of inpatient bed days, amounting to 70 per cent of the total health and social care spend in England.

The RCGP claims that incorporating the model of 'care planning' into daily general practice will not only improve the health outcomes and wellbeing of patients but will save the NHS time and money by reducing hospital admissions, A&E attendance and medication expenditure.

The report has been produced with the support of the College’s Patient Partnership Group and a number of organisations including Diabetes UK - who recently piloted a 'Year of Care' - and the Royal College of Nursing.

RCGP Vice Chair Professor Nigel Mathers, who led the production of the guidance, said: "Patients tell us that they want us to do more to support their own self-care. Over 90 per cent of people with Long Term Conditions say they are interested in being more active 'self managers' and over 75 per cent would feel more confident about self management if they had help from a healthcare professional or peer. Despite this, many people with LTCs have limited knowledge of, or influence over, their care.

"When patients self care – and feel supported in doing so – they are more likely to have greater confidence and a sense of control, to have better mental health and less depression, and to reduce the perceived severity of their symptoms, including experienced pain. These benefits combined can improve the quality of life for a patient with a Long Term Condition immeasurably.

"For GPs, Care Planning means more time to provide their care and services where they are needed more acutely. It improves communication and changes the doctor-patient relationship into a doctor-patient partnership."

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