GPs asked to assess self-care skills in patients with chronic illness

GPs will assess and score the ability of patients with long-term conditions to self-care effectively under a new scheme to be piloted by CCGs, NHS England has announced.

GPs in the pilots will be encouraged to help patients improve self-care skills (photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
GPs in the pilots will be encouraged to help patients improve self-care skills (photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

Pilots covering 150,000 patients will encourage GPs to score people with chronic illness on levels of 'patient activation' using a standardised tool. GPs taking part will then need to help those patients who are least engaged with their health to improve their self-care skills.

Officials said promoting the patient activation concept, which represents a patient's knowledge, skill and confidence to manage their health and care, would 'put patients at the heart of their consultation'.

A report by the King's Fund published last week said research showed patients' feeling of involvement in care and their ability to self-manage their condition effectively are closely linked to health outcomes, healthcare costs and a positive experience of care.

GPs in pilot areas will be asked 'to work with the 10% of people who have low levels of activation', according to NHS England.

The pilots will take place in CCGs in Somerset, Islington, Horsham and Mid-Sussex, Tower Hamlets and Sheffield.

'Paradigm shift'

Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s director for long-term conditions, said patient activation was an 'exciting' concept for improving patients' lives.

He said: 'It’s about understanding that when talking to patients that there are two experts in the room – one with individual experience, the other with medical expertise. This pilot will bring together the best of both, putting patients at the heart of their consultation.'

Sheffield GP Dr Ollie Hart said: 'I am a big supporter of the value of considering patient activation in clinical care. Patient activation is about a paradigm shift in how we as patients and clinicians interact and work together to get the best possible outcomes. Working like this means I can better understand where patients with long-term conditions are coming from and match my interventions to their needs.'

Dr Helen Gilburt from The King’s Fund said: 'The evidence summarised in our new report shows that measuring patient activation can play an important role in improving health outcomes, encouraging healthy behaviours and tackling health inequalities in England.'

The pilots will run in partnership with The King's Fund, The Health Foundation and The Renal Registry.

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