Key points

  • Analysis of data from 2014 to 2016 for 300,000 people in England found that one in four adults had 2+ health conditions, equating to approximately 14.2 million people in England.
  • Over half (55%) of hospital admissions and outpatient visits and three-quarters (75%) of primary care prescriptions are for people living with 2+conditions.
  • In the least-deprived fifth of areas, people can expect to have 2+ conditions by the time they are 71 years old, but in the most-deprived fifth, people reach the same level of illness a decade earlier, at 61 years of age.

As the number of people with multiple health conditions grows, meeting their needs will be one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS. People with multiple conditions often have poorer quality of life and greater risk of premature death.

People with multiple conditions often have a range of consultations and treatments which can often be overwhelming for them to manage and they may need substantial support. Resourcing primary care so GPs and nurses have the time to work together with patients to manage their conditions, and ensuring that hospital care has more coordination between specialties is also important to consider.

The research also demonstrates the importance of linking anonymised NHS data across primary and secondary care to gain greater insight into people’s care.

To improve care for people with multiple conditions it is critical that the NHS long-term plan identifies and addresses the complexity of their needs. The report sets out six steps the NHS could take to achieve this.

Further reading

Press release

People in most deprived areas of England develop multiple health conditions 10 years earlier than those in least deprived

People in the most deprived areas in England can expect to have two or more health conditions at 61 years.

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