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News:English study shows health inequalities are costly

A study from consultancy group Dr Foster suggests that people in deprived areas with COPD are four times more likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency than those in the least deprived places. The report finds that (1) influenza and pneumonia, (2) pyelonephritis and kidney/urinary tract infections, (3) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), (4) dehydration and gastroenteritis, and (5) ear, nose and throat infections are the top five conditions by volume of emergency admissions. All of these affect more people in areas of deprivation, with the result that there are more emergency admissions from areas of poverty.

Dr Foster suggests savings of £125 million in England could be made by dealing with these and other “ambulatory care service conditions” (ACSCs) in the community; this could also avoid hospital related risks to patients. One of their recommendations is more self management by patients of their conditions.

The report says, “Education is an important factor, therefore the NHS should educate and empower patients to manage chronic or long-term conditions themselves at home. This is particularly relevant to ACSCs such as COPD, diabetes, and asthma. Effective interventions for COPD include smoking cessation services, the step-wise approach to drug therapy (as outlined in the NICE guideline for COPD), pulmonary rehabilitation, and influenza vaccination. Adequate resources need to be provided for these interventions, particularly in more deprived areas where smoking is more prevalent.”

This recommendation may be welcomed by those involved in Tayside’s Florence home & mobile health monitoring programme, which has recently been boosted by the Scottish Government’s national campaign to scale up blood pressure monitoring at home, and is also used for smoking cessation, weight loss and many other applications.

Other recommendations include the effective use of data to enable clinicians to target those most at risk, and concentrating on areas of greatest need. “Deprivation has been shown to affect the rate and cost of emergency admissions for ACSCs. Focusing on the most deprived areas will reduce unnecessary emergency admissions and save the NHS money”.

Full report available here