Self-management programmes for people living with long-term conditions (LTCs) could save the NHS millions every year and significantly improve lives, according to a study.
The Expert Patient Programme Community Interest Company (EPP CIC) reviewed a wide-range of existing data and also conducted new research for its report, published on 2 February 2010.
The report concluded that integrating self-management techniques into service provision could result in cost savings of around £1,800 per person per year.
A significant proportion of the 15.4m people in the UK living with LTCs could benefit, says the EPP CIC, which is calling for a number of healthcare changes, including better access to self-management networks and advice for patients; more training for clinicians in the area of self-care; and more personalised care pathways for patients.
Last December, a parliamentary primary care group called for an end to a "culture of dependency", arguing that unnecessary GP consultations for minor ailments cost the taxpayer £2bn a year (see related link below).
Echoing this, Simon Knighton, Chief Executive of EPP CIC, said: "Unless we can address the culture of dependency that our current service tends to encourage, we will not be able to meet the demands of 21st century healthcare in the UK."
Mr Knighton added: "The personal benefits of attending a self-management course have been demonstrated time and again, with course participants reporting an increased quality of life and improved self confidence.
"There is now also strong evidence to back the positive social and economic impact that this has on the NHS. If combined with feedback from course participants who claim the NHS is not meeting their needs, then the case for a more integrated approach is overwhelming."
More than 50% of course participants in EPP CIC self-management courses said that, as a result, they used GP services less, with no increase in A&E use at all.
Carol Trustman, a participant with type 2 diabetes, said: "I made desperate attempts to control my condition through diet and exercise but failed miserably. The EPP CIC self-management course encouraged me to regain my confidence and think for myself though simple action-planning and problem-solving techniques."