Help for the chronic sick

New targets will focus on improving care for the long-term sick and reducing
infant mortality

The Government is to draw up a new set of targets to improve the care and
treatment of people suffering from chronic conditions.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn announced in February that the Government
would develop a National Service Framework for long-term health conditions.

This will focus on reducing premature adult deaths, as well as cutting
infant mortality rates, particularly in the poorest areas of England.

There will also be a drive to improve care for people with neurological
diseases and brain and spinal injuries.

This will include targeting conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis,
Parkinson’s disease and other similar conditions.

Speaking at a conference at the Royal College of Physicians, Milburn said,
"The NSF will overcome the lottery in care and ensure health and social
services work together in all parts of the country to provide the right level
of care and treatment for people with long-term health conditions.

"There is a particularly strong correlation between social class and
long-term health conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy; and a fundamental
and consistent link between poverty and ill-health. I believe the Government
has a responsibility to break that link."

It would also look to reduce to gap between children in different social
classes, as well as help pregnant women stop smoking.

"Health at the beginning of life is the foundation for health throughout
life. There is clear evidence from long-term studies that health status in the
first years can be tracked throughout life," Milburn added.

The framework is expected to be published in 2004 and implemented the
following year. The first meetings are due to take place this summer.

National service frameworks have already been introduced for coronary heart
disease and mental health, with frameworks planned for diabetes and the
treatment of older people.

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