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Supporting people with chronic conditions

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RCP Cymru Wales has responded to the Senedd inquiry into supporting people with chronic conditions.

Healthcare systems, medical education and research worldwide are traditionally designed to deliver care for individual diseases.

However, more and more people are living with multiple chronic conditions. Existing health systems are often fragmented, siloed, and are too often responsible for exacerbating existing inequalities in access to prevention, diagnostics, treatment and long-term support for chronic conditions.

Almost half (46%) of adults in Wales are living with a longstanding illness, and a third (33%) are living with a limiting longstanding illness. Adults in the most deprived areas of Wales are more likely to report longstanding illness/limiting longstanding illness.

This puts huge pressure on the Welsh NHS, social services and the third sector: for years we have been talking about shifting resource from treating disease to preventing disease, but so far change has happened too slowly.

Ultimately, services should be designed around the patient, not their chronic condition.

We have asked the Senedd committee to consider cross-cutting themes including:

  • the impact of chronic conditions on mental health and wellbeing
  • the health and care workforce (recruitment, retention, skills and new ways of working)
  • the role of the NHS Wales Executive and the new strategic clinical networks 
  • the impact of chronic conditions on widening health inequalities 
  • the need for effective third sector involvement as design and delivery partners  
  • the importance of building trust with hard-to-reach groups through co-production
  • the need for better evidence and data-driven decision-making  
  • the importance of targeted intervention to improve quality of access and outcomes  
  • the role of collaboration, partnership working, patient education and signposting.