There are more than 15.4 million people living with a long term health condition in England and that figure is rising fast. The likelihood is that a high proportion of us will at some point in our lives be faced with the life changing diagnosis of a long term condition.
The good news is that how we deal with long term conditions has changed dramatically over the years. In the past it was looked upon as a condition which needed treating as opposed to a condition which could be managed. My hope is that NHS Future Fit will help empower people to do this in a way they have never succeeded before.
I for one believe that people living with a long term condition can to continue to live their lives to the full, succeed in their goals and plan their futures; if we can work together to build a local NHS that focuses on providing support, appropriate and timely information and better access to services. We can empower people to respond to changes in their long term conditions by giving them a choice in how they get in touch with health services and where that contact occurs. Instead of scheduling care around the NHS, scheduling it around what suits the patient and their lifestyle.
We can help people take control of their symptoms by using technology, which could help them stay independent for longer and avoid the need for health services. For older people especially, this could mean staying in their own home and retaining confidence to carry on with their day-to-day lives.
Having said all that, don’t underestimate the value of developing a good relationship between doctor and patient. Whatever technical solution we adopt, we need to make sure that we continue to hold our patients hands throughout their journey.