16 September 2010
Ten of the country’s leading health charities have joined forces to call on the NHS to spend its money on health services in a more focussed and patient-centred way. Too much money is wasted by focusing on short term savings rather than long term planning and if the NHS is to keep track with the country’s health needs, it needs to redefine value for money and patient care.
Money could be saved, and better services provided, if the NHS offered a more integrated system of care. Whilst co-ordinated care is important for patients with individual long-term conditions, it is essential for the substantial, and growing, proportion of people who have more than one chronic condition, particularly in older people and with our ageing population.
Together the charities, who represent 17 million people, have created a report, How to deliver high-quality, patient-centred, cost-effective care, which identifies five key areas for improvement which highlight the need for better co-ordination and more impetus on self-management. They are:
Better co-ordinated care, which automatically includes long term care planning which is regularly reviewed
Early diagnosis and intervention, which saves money as treating illness early means less need for more expensive intervention later
Emotional, psychological and practical support
Patients must be actively involved in all decisions about their care
Supported self-management; which should see patients treated more as able adults who are taught to manage their own conditions, rather than helpless patients who are forced to rely on healthcare professionals as they are not given the tools to help themselves.
For example, one evaluation featured in the report found that specialist heart nurses reduce all-cause admissions by an average of 35 per cent, and creates an average saving of £1,826 per patients even after taking out the cost of the nurse. Specialist nurses, who work in all fields across the NHS like cancer, mental health, and diabetes, treat the patient as a whole. They link up their patient’s care and show that this way of treating the patient is better overall whilst also saving the NHS money. By investing in personalised care the NHS can reduce a lot of waste.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
'If we truly want to put the patient at the heart of the health care system and make the future affordable, we need to change things now. The NHS cannot keep treating the illness as separate to treating the person as a whole. More co-ordinated care is better for the patient, better for the NHS, better for the tax-payer. By focusing on the individual the NHS can save money if it stops leaving the patient too dependent on the NHS when they don’t need to be.'
Peter Hollins, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said:
'As we steer through these times of financial uncertainty it's essential patients don’t bear the brunt of cost cutting. It’s time for the NHS to put people in the driving seat and let them make choices about their own care.
'The five recommendations in the report show it is possible to provide a higher-quality, lower-cost system. The specialist heart nurses are a prime example of how better, personalized care can save money. By embracing this coordinated approach the NHS can ensure patients are given the gold standard of care they need and deserve.'
Dame Helena Shovelton, British Lung Foundation Chief Executive, said:
'It is vital that when decisions are made on savings that we do not lose sight of the ways in which we can do this so that patients with long term conditions receive the high quality care and support they need throughout their patient journey. These ways have been identified in this report and if followed through by the NHS could provide savings and better more focussed treatment and care for all the millions of patients affected by conditions such as COPD and asthma.'
** Spokespeople available, please contact the relevant press office**
For further information, please contact:
Anna Brosnan - Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 840 7818
Tova Turkel - British Lung Foundation
0207 688 5564
0207 688 5565
Elspeth McAusland - The Stroke Association
0207 566 1528
Notes to Editors
1. The ten charities behind the report are: Age UK; Asthma UK; Breakthrough Breast Cancer; British Heart Foundation; British Lung Foundation; Diabetes UK; Macmillan Cancer Support; Neurological Alliance; Rethink; Stroke Association. Together, they represent 17 million people.
2. The report is available here: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Volunteering/patientcare_2010.pdf