Over fifteen million people in this country report living with a long term condition (LTC). Long term conditions are those conditions that cannot, at present, be cured, but can be controlled by medication and other therapies. They include diabetes, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Of these, many live with a condition that limits their ability to cope with day-to-day activities.
For some people, especially older people and those who have more than one condition, discomfort and stress is an everyday reality. For those living in disadvantaged circumstances or for whom English is not their first language, the challenges are even greater. And for the most vulnerable, a lack of co-ordinated, personalised care can lead to a significant deterioration in health and often avoidable emergency admissions.
It is important to recognise that health and social care teams across the country are routinely offering quality care to these patients. Examples of local excellence are not hard to find, including care provided by general practice to its registered population, progress in implementing the National Service Frameworks and support from social care. But now, as with the global health community, the NHS and its partners in social care and the voluntary sector face a crucial junction as the incidence of long term conditions is set to increase.
Long term conditions have become a priority because of the changing burden of disease and the increasing prevalence of conditions such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis and heart disease. People with long term conditions are more likely to see their GP, be admitted to hospital, and stay in hospital longer than people without long term conditions. They are also increasingly involved in managing their conditions with the support of their health care team.