Patients with multiple conditions not getting best possible care, say experts
Reported in The Guardian (19 April 2018): Too often patients are treated by a raft of different specialists when they should be treated more holistically
Millions of people in the UK and many more across the world are suffering from multiple long-term illnesses and may not be getting the best possible treatment from health services that focus on one disease at a time, say experts.
A team from the Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK says this is a growing problem and a huge potential burden on the NHS and other health services. “Clusters” of diseases are becoming more common, they say, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, depression and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease of the lungs.
Specialised hospital doctors treat each one of these conditions individually. Patients may have one problem treated and then have to wait months to see a different specialist for another condition. The experts are calling for a greater role for the GP, who can look at the whole person, but needs more time than a 10 minute consultation.
Prof Stephen MacMahon, principal director of the George Institute for Global Health and chair of the Academy’s steering group on multimorbidity said the best evidence on the numbers came from Australia, but there was no reason to think other countries would be different. “Among Australians seeing a general practitioner, half have two diseases or more, a third have three or more and 10% have six diseases or more,” he said. “This is not a small problem.”