As a GP every day seems to bring new challenges. For example, 50 per cent of all our consultations are now taken up by people with long-term conditions and the complex problems presented by multimorbidity. Our consultation rates have been steadily increasing over the past decade and the consistent message from our patients is that they want better partnerships with us, particularly with those who have long-term conditions (half of the over 50s). So how can we meet these challenges?
One approach which has been shown to be effective is care planning – a process by which people have access to their test results and share decisions with their doctor about the key priorities for their future care. This approach was pioneered by the Year of Care Partnership and the RCGP. However to implement care planning four things need to be in place. First is a commitment to partnership working. Second our patients (people with long-term conditions) need to be engaged and involved in the process. However, care planning is not possible without a further two other elements – the resources to support this change in the way we work with our patients and the necessary practice organisation required to ensure that patients receive their test results in the right way in the right time. These four components make up the House of Care.
A wide range of organisations are now committed to this new way of working and have come together to form the Coalition for Collaborative Care. Our main objective is to transform the way we currently support people with long-term conditions by building the House of Care in every community. We hope the synergy created by working together will help us to embed care planning and other initiatives designed to support self-management and share decisions with our patients into every day clinical care in the NHS.
We have a wide range of new ideas and innovations to help clinicians and patients implement this way of working which can bring about improvements in quality of our care as well as health outcomes. The more people and organisations we have in the coalition the better and I hope to welcome many more to our number over the coming weeks and months.
Nigel Mathers, Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of General Practitioners and convening chair of the coalition