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10.05.12

Fragmented care for patients with co-morbidity

The number of people with multiple chronic diseases is higher in those under 65, and the NHS is failing to cope with such levels of co-morbidity, a new report suggests.

Research published in The Lancet found that of 1.75 million people analysed inScotland, nearly one quarter had two or more chronic diseases. 42% had one or more conditions and 23% had two or more.

The study found that care for these patients was coordinated poorly, and that a personal approach is needed for those with multiple conditions. Those living in the most deprived areas were particularly affected, as the disorders were more common and occurred earlier.

Led by Bruce Guthrie, professor of primary care medicine atDundeeUniversity, Professor Stewart Mercer ofGlasgowUniversity, and Graham Watt, professor of general practice atGlasgow, the study reads: “Existing approaches need to be complemented by support for the work of generalists, providing continuity, co-ordination, and above all a personal approach for people with multi-morbidity.”

Professor Watt added: “Any country with an ageing population is heading in this direction. All these countries are waking up to the problem.

“The status quo isn’t an option because it leads in the wrong direction. These patients need continuity, and we need ways of measuring how well care is joined-up.”

The Scottish Government’s health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “We are working in partnership with NHS, primary-care providers and patients, as well as the research community, so that we have effective systems in place to address the needs of people with multiple health conditions and to reduce these health inequalities.”

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