NHS 'not designed for long-term illnesses'
The NHS could struggle to cope with the growing number of people with long-term conditions, a report has claimed.
A new report from the University of Dundee, published in the Lancet, has revealed that the NHS may find itself unable to manage the high number of patients under the age of 65 who are struggling with long-term or potentially terminal conditions.
Multimorbidity, the term for people who are living with two or more long-term health disorders, is an increasing issue among younger patients as well as those over 65, which is the demographic more commonly affected by this issue.
While health insurance customers may be able to fund the extended course of treatment needed to cope with a health problem of this stature, the University of Dundee's new study suggests that the nature of the NHS is struggling to manage the care levels involved in multimorbidity.
The study stressed that incidences of multimorbidity among under-65s occurred ten to fifteen years earlier in areas considered to be deprived, indicating a serious socioeconomic factor in the problem.
While those with several illnesses are often excluded from research trials as their cases are judged to be too complicated, the report urged the NHS to look into ways to better cope with patients in this situation.
Dr Chris Salisbury, from the school of social and community medicine at the University of Bristol, noted that although this study focused on Scotland it is an issue that affects the entire UK.
"Expenditure on health care rises almost exponentially with the number of chronic disorders that an individual has, so increasing multimorbidity generates financial pressures," pointed out Dr Salisbury.
He added that this emphasises the need for the NHS to streamline its medical procedures in order to cope more efficiently with people facing these problems.
The authors suggested that the undue focus on people with single disorders means dealing with multimorbidity has been placed on the backburner.
A recent report from the Stroke Association expressed concern that stroke patients are not receiving sufficient care after leaving hospital, something which can cause the development of an additional illness.