New long-term conditions plan welcome but NHS must not neglect people with less severe needs

Don't neglect patients who are just about coping or they will soon become tomorrow's problem. That was the response of The King's Fund to the government's new drive to provide personalised care for people with long-term conditions.

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'The emphasis on linking NHS and social care and the drive to provide targeted services for those at risk of hospital admission is good news.

'What is more, recruiting 3,000 community matrons to undertake this may provide real benefits, although this is only one possible solution - there are other ways of doing this that may be equally effective and the health service should provide a wide range of services, not least to ensure that those with less severe needs are not left out.'

But he added: 'If even half of the strategic aims of this report are achieved it will lead to significant improvements in health and important reductions in hospital admission, and we should all welcome that.'

The King's Fund also points to the potential impact of the emerging market in primary care with numerous UK and overseas health providers lining up to provide disease management and other services for long term conditions.

Dr Rebecca Rosen, The King's Fund Fellow in Health Policy said:

'Good long term care requires continuity, responsiveness to patients and excellent communication between different providers. Primary care trusts commissioning new disease management services need to be clear about how they will affect the overall quality of care. The key will be to avoid fragmentation and duplication of services and improve integration between different providers.'

Notes to editors: 

1. For further information or interviews, please contact Beverley Cohen at The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2632 or 07774 218439.

2. Case management involves providing tailored-care to people identified as being most at risk of hospital admission and is seen as a key weapon in the battle to reduce emergency hospital bed days by five per cent from 2005.

3. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.