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"Higher standards to improve services" for people with long-term conditions - minister

26 June, 2002

UK Health Minister Jacqui Smith has said that the National Service Framework (NSF) for Long-term Conditions will have a particular focus on the needs of people with neurological conditions and brain and spinal injury, and also address some of the common issues faced by people living with long term conditions.

Speaking at the College of Occupational Therapists "Making Waves" Conference, Jacqui Smith, said:

"This NSF will enable us to tackle unacceptable variations in the quality of care across the country for people with neurological conditions and brain and spinal injury.

"We know that people need help not only in the context of managing their medical condition but also in the light of their social, educational, employment and family lives. Their views and those of their family and carers are really important in helping to improve their independence and quality of life.

"These are challenging times ahead but occupational therapists have a key role in developing and implementing the NSF over the next 10 years. Your expertise in working with patients across health and social care boundaries will be invaluable to this work."

The NSF will build on NHS Plan principles: aiming to provide good quality, joined-up health and social services along the whole of the patient pathway, with users and carers at the centre of redesigned services.

  • The NSF will have a particular focus on services and support for people of working age. For example:
  • User-centred, interdisciplinary health and social care assessment and support including rapid referral for diagnosis;
  • Specialist, community and vocational rehabilitation services;
  • Community equipment services;
  • Help with a range of common symptoms including pain and movement disorders;
  • Information and support for carers and families;
  • Support and services that help people with long term conditions fulfil their own responsibilities as partners, parents and carers; and
  • Developing the concept of the Expert Patient.

The NSF project team has met with and received a number of submissions from key stakeholders including voluntary organisations, clinicians and health and social care professionals regarding their aspirations for this NSF. We are working closely with the Neurological Alliance and the Long-term Medical Conditions Alliance on the development of this NSF.

The NSF was announced by Secretary of State, Alan Milburn in February last year. The NSF will include services for people with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease and brain and spinal injury. Current plans are to publish the NSF in 2004 with a 10-year implementation period from 2005