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Global health

New approach needed to tackle rise of multimorbidity

Multimorbidity is on the rise, both in the UK and internationally, and a new approach is needed to help services better treat people, the Academy of Medical Sciences has said.

The number of people living from multiple long-term illnesses is on the rise, both nationally and worldwide; however, services are not designed to best meet their needs and it is not known how many patients are affected, a report has found.

Multimorbidity: a Priority for Global Health Research, published by the Academy of Medical Sciences, concluded that because most health systems are designed around single conditions, patients with multiple conditions are poorly served.

“We are facing a tidal wave of patients living with multiple long-term health conditions — I estimate tens of millions of Britons suffer from multimorbidity, and globally the number could be a billion. [But] while we know multimorbidity is very common, we don’t know precisely how many people live with multiple serious illnesses,” said chair of the Academy of Medical Sciences Multimorbidity Working Group, Stephen MacMahon.

“How to prevent and manage multiple diseases is a challenge that GPs face every day, yet we have almost no evidence on which to provide guidance as to how to do this most effectively.”

Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board member, Liz Butterfield, said pharmacists were ideally placed to improve the care and quality of life of patients with multiple conditions, particularly where polypharmacy is an issue.

She added that pharmacists were also ideally placed to help prevent multimorbidities developing or worsening in younger people.

“Community pharmacists and those now being introduced in care homes and GP practices are much better placed to undertake a medicines review that can take up to two hours rather than a GP appointment that lasts ten minutes and is focused on diagnostics and treatment,” she said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204719

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