In March 2020, we wrote about ways Advice & Guidance can help patients with Long Term Conditions (LTCs). The King’s Fund reported that approximately 15 million people in England are living with LTCs and that LTCs accounted for about 50% of all GP appointments, 64% of all outpatient appointments and over 70% of inpatient bed days.
Supporting patients with LTCs in the current climate
Evidence from past national emergencies (primarily natural disasters and conflicts) highlights the risk of disruption to the care of patients with LTCs contributing to adverse health outcomes for these patients during and, importantly, in the wake of these national emergencies.
“Past experience has shown that there is a risk that more patients will die from non-COVID-19 related illnesses than COVID-19” (RCGP 2020)
As it has been widely documented, patients living with LTCs are at a higher risk of being hospitalised by COVID-19. However, it is not just the complications of their condition that puts them at an increased risk, but also the risk of inadequate control of their condition that can lead to an adverse health outcome.
The difficulty in managing patients with LTCs can be due to a number of factors from the diversion of healthcare resources or the interruption to routine care (as we have seen during these last few months) to the lifestyle impacts on the individual through increased stress, poor diet or reduced activity patterns.
These factors are also likely to impact more heavily on the elderly and those living in more deprived areas (i.e. that segment of the population which is already most at risk from COVID-19). And, whilst the threat posed directly by COVID-19 to children and adolescents is low, there is a similar risk posed by these indirect effects of the pandemic to paediatric patients suffering LTCs.
So, as we move into this COVID-19 Recovery Period, it is hugely important that patients with LTCs can be managed effectively. Key to this will be the ongoing collaboration and communication between all care providers and the patients.
COVID-19 Recovery – Ways we can help clinicians manage patients with LTCs:
- Providing GPs access to rapid expert advice by phone to help with the management of the patient (Physical and Mental) – from local clinicians, or where not possible, from out-of-area clinicians. Find out more about Telephone A&G for Elective Care and Telephone A&G for Mental Health
- Providing other care providers, aside from GPs, access to tailored advice and/or improved communication (e.g. Giving community nurses access to imaging for wound care/diabetic podiatry). Read this Nurse case study
- Improving access for Patients to hospital clinicians when they need it without needing a face-to-face appointment. Find out about Patient Initiated Follow-Ups (PIFUs).