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Helping patients to take control of long-term illnesses

According to the Department of Health (DH) today (Monday 2 April2007), more people across the country with long-term illnesses willsoon be able to be supported to have greater control over theirconditions, increasing their confidence and improving their quality oflife.

The DH has established the Expert Patients Programme as aCommunity Interest Company (EPP CIC) - the first time a governmentdepartment has set up a social enterprise organisation.

Primarycare trusts (PCTs) will be able to commission the EPP CIC to runself-management courses for patients to help them better manage theirconditions - and even to train volunteers to run courses in their area.

Thenew EPP CIC will mean that patients have greater access to courses onhow best to manage their illness, which can mean that they avoidunnecessary hospital trips. Early findings suggest that through betterself-management, A&E attendances have been reduced by more than 15%for people who have attended an EPP course.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: "This is an excellentopportunity for PCTs to help patients in their local area to bettermanage long-term conditions. By commissioning these courses, they areinvesting in self-care and empowering patients, increasing socialcapital and improving community health. Knowing how best to manage along-term condition reduces the need for expensive emergency care -this is better for patients and for the local NHS."

HarryCayton, National Director for Patients and the Public, said:"Self-management is an integral element of care for people withlong-term health conditions. The EPP CIC is an exciting opportunity forself-management programmes to be provided more widely across health andsocial care."

Stephen Jacobs OBE, Chair of the EPP CIC said:"The EPP CIC will be able to make a difference to the lives of thelarge number of people living with long-term health conditions. Weparticularly hope to aim a number of our services towards those in someof the most socially excluded communities - for example, we now have aseries of courses for minority ethnic groups translated into ninelanguages, as well as courses for those who care for others who have along-term health condition. It is particularly important to work withother health professionals to understand the value of our courses fortheir patients - a task which the EPP CIC will also undertake."

TheEPP CIC went live yesterday (1 April 2007), with the aim of increasingthe number of course places every year from 12,000 to 100,000 by 2012.