The National Health Service could garner millions of pounds of savings every year through the widespread implementation of self-care programmes for patients with long-term conditions, a new report claims.

Expert Patient Programmes (EPP) were first mentioned in the Department of Health’s 1999 white paper Saving Lives: Our healthier nation as a means to help create a more patient-centred NHS in which patients are better informed and able to play a greater role in their healthcare.

The idea behind the self-care strategy is that equipping patients with long-term health conditions with the right skills and support to boost their health literacy will enable them to make more effective use of healthcare services, and thus help to reduce the overall burden of chronic disease on society, according to Expert Patient Programme Community Interest Company (EPP CIC).

The economic benefits to the NHS of patient self-management courses have long been in question, but now research by EPP CIC suggests that the introduction of an integrated and targeted self-care service could actually lead to cost savings of around £1,800 per person per year, not to mention the personal benefits to patients.

However, in order for the initiative to reach its full potential, the EPP CIC stressed that more training is needed for clinicians in the core competencies of self care, a self-management pathway should be developed for patients, and personal self-management goals “should be fully integrated into the care planning process”.