NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

NHS PATIENTS TOLD TO TREAT THEMSELVES

January 3, 2008

Millions of Britons with arthritis, asthma and even heart failure will be urged to treat themselves as part of a government plan to save billions of pounds from the government run National Health Service (NHS) budget.

Instead of going to hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out "self care" as the Department of Health (DoH) tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending.

The guidelines could mean people with chronic conditions:

  • Monitor their own heart activity, blood pressure and lung capacity using equipment installed in the home
  • Report medical information to doctors remotely by telephone or computer
  • Administer their own drugs and other treatment to "manage pain" and assessing the significance of changes in their condition
  • Use relaxation techniques to relieve stress and avoid "panic" visits to emergency wards.

Critics claim the plan would provide doctors with an excuse for ignoring the elderly or those with debilitating, but not life-threatening long-term conditions, and would not work without significant investment in community health services.

The Arthritis Research Campaign says it risks providing health managers with "an excuse for neglecting elderly patients."

Source: James Kirkup, "NHS patients told to treat themselves," London Telegraph, January 1, 2008.

 

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