People with asthma, diabetes and other long-term health conditions could be sent information on how to stay fit and healthy by text message and e-mail, under self-care plans being proposed by the Government.
Health secretary John Reid published the guidance document, Self Care – a real choice, in January.
It proposed that the NHS should extend the use of more traditional self-care support programmes, such as nurse-led classes to educate newly diagnosed patients about their condition.
The NHS Direct ‘family’ of services, including telephone helplines, internet and interactive digital TV, could also be used more for self-care support programmes.
The thinking behind the changes is a desire to reduce the number of beds being taken up by patients.
Reid has set a target of reducing emergency in-patient admissions by 5 per cent over the next three years.
Currently some 10 per cent of patients who stay in hospital for their care – many of whom have multiple, long-term chronic conditions – account for 55 per cent of all the days spent in hospital.
In a separate development, the Department of Health has named the railway stations in which it intends to open NHS Walk-In Centres for commuters later this year.
The centres will open in the spring at London’s Liverpool Street, Canary Wharf, Kings Cross and Victoria stations, Leeds New Station Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Newcastle Central station.
The Government is investing 25m in the seven centres, open from 7am to 7pm.
Each will offer a basic range of GP services, including monitoring of long-term conditions, blood pressure checks, physiotherapy, treatment for minor injuries, prescriptions and pharmacy services.