Long term condition patients cause 70% of NHS spending

Hospital ward image

Two-thirds of A&E visits linked to long term condition patients

MP’s have spoken out about their fear for how long term conditions are managed by the NHS, saying that cutting back on hospital services before community care plans are fully in place will be a “recipe for disaster”. 

Long term conditions, such as diabetes, currently account for 70% of health spending yet this is only 30% of the NHS’s patients, and although community care has been considered as more desirable for patients, it may not necessarily save the NHS money, as was originally thought. It has been estimated that by 2016, an additional £4 billion per year would need to be found to cope with additional financial pressures.

Many of these patients will still need specialist hospital care, and it has also been raised that there are still many local issues that need resolving, such as the shortfall of trainee GP’s providing primary care. MP’s have suggested that instead of reducing hospital funding to pay for a move towards more community care, there first needs to be a greater understanding of why long term condition patients head to hospital in the first place, as they occupy 77% of beds and are responsible for two thirds of outpatient and A&E visits.

Boosting community care

Dr Sarah Wollaston, head of the Health Select Committee told BBC News “Unless we get the treatment of long-term conditions right, we are going to see more and more people unable to see a doctor in their GP surgery and therefore turning up at casualty.”

Bridget Turner, of Diabetes UK, said “The health system needs to change to put people with long-term conditions, including diabetes, at the centre of the care they receive.”

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said “We need to see the people with long-term conditions as part of the team with the carers, the people who work in the general practices, community service providers and to join the services up around them, and that will take some time and some effort.”