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Telehealth to be rolled out to three million

Telehealth monitoring equipment worth around £750m is to be given to three million people with long-term health conditions over the nest five years, the Prime Minister announced at the launch of the life sciences strategy.

People suffering from lung disease, heart failure, arthritis or high blood pressure will have machines installed in their homes to monitor their condition. These will send results on blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, pulse, weight and respiration electronically to doctors so that they can detect early signs of deterioration and act accordingly.

The move follows the success of a pilot involving 6,000 people, which cut deaths by up to half and reduced GP appointments, emergency hospital admissions and A&E visits. Caring for patients in the home could save the NHS around £1.2bn per year.

David Cameron said: “We’ve trialled it, it’s been a huge success, and now we’re on a drive to roll this out nationwide.

“The aim – to improve three million lives over the next five years. This is going to make an extraordinary difference to people. Diabetics taking their blood sugar levels at home – and having them checked by a nurse. Heart disease patients having their blood pressure and pulse rate checked – without leaving their home.

“Dignity, convenience and independence for millions of people.”

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA, said: “It quite clearly gives the patients an opportunity to manage their own illness and there is pretty good evidence that this is a good thing.

“It is not for everyone, some people find it intimating and difficult but we know that for many chronic conditions, good tight control is effective and this is a good way of getting it.