Millions of people with arthritis, asthma and even heart failure will be urged to treat themselves as part of a Government plan to save billions of pounds from the NHS budget.
Instead of going to hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out "self care" as the Department of Health (DoH) tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending.
NHS patients told to treat themselves
NHS patients could be expected to administer their own medication
The guidelines could mean people with chronic conditions:
• Monitoring their own heart activity, blood pressure and lung capacity using equipment installed in the home
• Reporting medical information to doctors remotely by telephone or computer
• Administering their own drugs and other treatment to "manage pain" and assessing the significance of changes in their condition
• Using relaxation techniques to relieve stress and avoid "panic" visits to emergency wards.
Gordon Brown hinted at the new policy in a message to NHS staff yesterday, promising a service that "gives all of those with long-term or chronic conditions the choice of greater support, information and advice, allowing them to play a far more active role in managing their own condition".
But an internal Government document seen by The Daily Telegraph makes clear that the policy is a money-saving measure, a key plank of DoH plans to cut costs.
Critics claimed the plan would provide doctors with an excuse for ignoring the elderly or those with debilitating, but not life-threatening long-term conditions, and would not work without significant investment in community health services.
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