Living with long-term illnesses
Below is a description of the way the NHS currently looks after people (in this case an imaginary woman called 'Jean') with more than one long-term illness, and a broad outline of how this could change in future. The description only gives you a general picture of the future - exactly how the NHS will change is not yet decided, and that is where you can help.
As you read the text below, please think to yourself: are there any changes you strongly want to see? Do you have any particular concerns? Is there anything that you feel is missing? Then please click the link at the bottom of the page to quickly tell us your thoughts.
The NHS now:
Jean has diabetes, high blood pressure, and lung disease. Like many people who have more than one long-term illness, she spends a lot of time seeing NHS staff – getting to and from different appointments, with different staff, sometimes in different places, for each of her different health problems. This is tiring, stressful, difficult, and often costly.
Jean also feels that her care is fragmented – she doesn’t feel as if one person, or one team, is fully in charge and looking after the ‘big picture’ of her health. Instead, she feels that each one of her illnesses is treated in isolation from the others.
She also feels that the NHS is only there for her when she gets ill – stepping in to stop a crisis, instead of helping her to stay well and avoid getting sick in the first place.
The NHS in the future:
The NHS wants to bring NHS teams closer together, in local facilities such as community hospitals or GP practices, to make life easier – and healthier – for people like Jean.
Teams working together would be able to give Jean the advice, support and treatment she needs, in one place, and without the need for so many appointments. Basically, instead of Jean moving around to meet NHS teams, the health staff would come together to make her life easier.
One person or team should be in charge of overseeing the ‘big picture’ of Jean’s health. They would co-ordinate everything – talking with hospital staff, pharmacy experts, physios, doctors, nurses and others to ensure Jean gets the help she needs – so that everyone knows what everyone else was doing. Their main focus should be on keeping Jean feeling well, so that hospital visits could be avoided whenever possible.
If Jean has a carer – whether it is her partner, a relative, or friend – the NHS would also consider their needs too. This might also involve working with voluntary groups too, to help with non-medical support such as befriending, transport, or respite breaks.
What do we need to know before this broad outline starts to turn into specific plans?
Please click here to tell us.