The National Health Service is rolling out an evidence-based tool over the next five years that should help people with long-term conditions better manage their own health and care needs.

Around 15 million people in England have long-term conditions, but only a small number have written care plans and, of those who do, only around a third had any input in them (according to data from 2014). Evidence shows that proper care and support planning can help improve patient lives and save precious NHS resources at the same time.

The Patient Activation Measure (PAM) captures the extent to which people feel engaged and confident in taking care of their health and wellbeing, and is intended to help organisations better tailor support and services to individual needs.

Building on successful pilots in six areas of England, NHS leaders have now agreed a five-year licence to expand the use of the PAM tool with up to 1.8 million people, as a core component of the Self-Care programme. This will see around 40 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and other primary care organisations granted access to PAM licences, subject to an application process, in 2016/17.

Local NHS groups and their partners can now apply for free access to patient activation licences, “which will help them assess and build their patients’ knowledge, skills and confidence, empowering people to make decisions about their own health and care,” according to NHS England.

“Truly empowering patients to keep themselves well, manage their conditions and stay out of hospitals requires health professionals to understand the needs, the skills, and the confidence of the individual patient they are working with. The Patient Activation Measure shows real promise as a tool to achieve this,” said Dr Alf Collins, NHS England national clinical advisor.

Measuring Patient Activation is also a central vein of the NHS Five Year Forward View’s ambition for the health service to improve support for people to manage their own health by “staying healthy, making informed choices of treatment, managing conditions and avoiding complications”.