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Long term condition management: a big win for primary care

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy | Arthritis Research UK

3 min read Partner content

A number of Health and care stakeholders discussed the management of long term conditions in primary care with member of the Health Select Committee Maggie Throup MP and political editor for the House Magazine Dan Bond in a round table at the Conservative Party Conferences. 


The discussion focused on how a transformation in the health care system could be achieved by providing additional support to primary care in managing long term conditions though better use of the existing workforce, including physiotherapists, pharmacists and other care professionals. A more patient focused approach and a change in attitudes towards treatment by both patients and practitioners.  

Beginning the roundtable Throup detailed how the health select committee inquiry into primary care had made a number of recommendations on how to improve primary care, particularly on the treatment of long-term conditions, needed to “ultimately put the patient at the heart of health care”.

Currently, Throup thought, patients “did not feel properly treated unless they received a prescription”. She said a multi-disciplinary team focused on having the right health professional with the patient at the right time as part of the new models of care would facilitate a move away from the hospital setting.
The roundtable discussed what examples of innovative practice in primary care looked like and why they were not being replicated across the country.

“The sector knew what good looked like”, said Jeremy Taylor, chief executive, National Voices, with participants agreeing that replicating good examples and giving health professionals the chance to share experience was the key challenge.

These views were echoed by Expert Patient Bobbie Hough saying there needed to be a flexible system which allowed patients the ability to manage their health condition rather than have their condition manage them.

Giving people the opportunity to manage their own conditions needed to be at the centre of innovation explained Catherine Pope, chair, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. This would give people an active role in their health care and would have a positive impact on sufferers of multiple conditions which often included mental illness.

In order to accomplish this Liam O’Toole, chief executive, Arthritis Research UK spoke on the need for holistic care planning highlighting the link between to manage the lack of mobility and pain felt by arthritis patients to mental health and physical health treatments. Cross Departmental work was with important factors including the ability to retain employment, mental wellbeing and social isolation in both preventing and managing long-term conditions.

Maureen Baker, chair, Royal College of General Practitioners said the health service needed to more away from a single organ approach to care and consider multiple long term conditions, with Alison Rogan, chief executive, Tunstall Healthcare Group highlighting the benefits of technology in homes to support patients providing a holistic preventative approach to empower patients.

Dr Annette Bishop, NIHR research fellow at Keele University said pilot studies had shown there had been no increased demand following patient self-referrals to physiotherapists and ultimately patients knew what they wanted. Advanced practices were about getting a team around the GP, all working at the top of their licence, explained director of policy, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

A move away from health professionals being too focused on their specialism was required, with potential solutions of placing a team of health professionals around the GP and giving patients the chance to self-refer to physiotherapists would contribute to both prevention and management of long-term conditions.

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