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Implementing and managing self-management skills training within primary care organisations: a national survey of the expert patients programme within its pilot phase

Author(s): Lee Victoria | Kennedy Anne | Rogers Anne

Journal: Implementation Science
ISSN 1748-5908

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 6;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Abstract A key element of the United Kingdom (UK) health policy reform in relation to chronic disease management is the introduction of a national programme seeking to promote self-care from within the National Health Service (NHS). The mainstay of the Expert Patients Programme (EPP) is a six-week training course that provides the opportunity for anyone with a long-term condition to develop new skills to manage their condition better on a day-to-day basis. The course forms part of the NHS self-care support programme, is administered by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and delivered by people who have personal experience of living with a long-term condition. The NHS' official Expert Patients Programme website presently states that, "Pilot EPP courses began at 26 NHS PCT sites across England in May 2002, and by May 2004 approximately 300 PCTs had either actively implemented pilot courses or had committed to joining. The majority of PCTs are now coming to the end of the pilot phase, with many implementing plans to make EPP sustainable for the long-term." The NHS website heralds the pilot "a success." A national, postal survey of PCT EPP Leads was undertaken in order to examine both the evolvement of EPP during its pilot stage and future plans for the programme. A questionnaire was sent out to the 299 PCTs known to have committed to the EPP pilot, and an excellent 100% response rate was obtained over a 3-month period (April-July 2005). One marker of success of the Expert Patients Programme implementation is the actual running of courses by the Primary Care Trusts. This paper explores the extent to which the implementation of the pilot can indeed be viewed as a "success," primarily in terms of the number of courses run, and considers the extent to which PCTs have carried out all that they were committed to do. Findings suggest that the more time an EPP Lead dedicates to the Programme, the more likely it is that EPP has run successfully in the past, and the more likely it is that it will continue to run successfully in the future. Other factors indicating future EPP success include collaborating across PCTs to share co-ordinators, tutors, and funding.
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