More MS news articles for Sep 2001

"Revolution" in chronic disease treatment

Monday September 17, 10:58 AM

Patients with common chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and arthritis are to be encouraged to take more control over managing their illness under a government "expert patient" scheme.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Liam Donaldson launched the scheme saying that he wants people living with chronic long-term conditions to become key decision-makers in their own care.

A report, written by a panel of patients and health professionals, found that patients often have a wealth of knowledge about their particular condition. With training they can help take the lead in their own treatment.

These "expert patients" can also help others better manage their conditions. Under the new initiative, pilot groups in the community will invite patients to meet over a six-week period to discuss their illnesses and learn from expert patients.

Between now and 2004 all primary care trusts will establish pilot groups and if they prove successful the scheme will be rolled out nationwide in the following three years. Similar schemes have proven successful in the US and a small number of groups have been run independently in the UK by patients' organisations.

Tina Blackwood, an ex-nurse from Portsmouth who has multiple sclerosis, recently completed an expert patients course and said it was "very empowering" and a good way to meet others with chronic diseases.

"I don't feel quite so alone," she said. "I don't waste a doctor's time because I know when I've reached the point where I can't do anything more myself."

© Health Media Ltd 2001