Supporting patients to manage their long-term condition(s)

We assess the support from local services and organisations that help patients manage their long-term health condition(s).



Last updated: 25/11/2021


In England, more than 15 million people (over a quarter of the population) have a long-term health condition. This means a health problem that can’t be cured but can be controlled with medication or other therapies. Over the next ten years this figure is expected to increase, especially among those living with multiple conditions. Care of people with long-term conditions accounts for about 70% of the money we spend on health and social care in England. The NHS aims to support people with long-term conditions to be as independent and healthy as possible, preventing complications and the need to go into hospital.

Until 2017, GP Patient Survey respondents were asked, "In the last 6 months, have you had enough support from local services or organisations to help you to manage your long-term health condition(s)?". Between 2012 and 2017, the proportion of respondents who answered “yes, definitely” decreased from 54% to 51%, and those that said “no” increased from 15% to 17%. This indicates that the NHS might be struggling to keep up with the demand for services that provide support for people with long-term conditions. Note that those who responded 'I haven't needed support' and 'don't know/can't say' have been excluded for comparison purposes.

The question was changed in the 2018 GP Patient Survey to ask, "In the last 12 months, have you had enough support from local services or organisations to help you to manage your condition (or conditions)?”. Between 2018 and 2021, the percentage of respondents who stated that they definitely had enough support in the last 12 months decreased from 43% to 37%. The percentage who reported that they had not received enough support increased from 21% to 26%. Note that these results are not directly comparable with those from previous surveys. Please see ‘About this data’ for more information.

There is variation between different age groups in how supported patients feel to manage their long-term health condition(s). Results from the 2021 GP Patient Survey show that fewer patients in the younger age groups felt supported to manage their condition compared to the older age groups. Only 69% of respondents aged 16 to 24 felt supported, compared with 80% of respondents aged 75 to 84. Those who responded ‘I haven’t needed support’ and ‘Don’t know/can’t say’ have been excluded for comparison purposes.

There is also an association between the level of deprivation and how supported people feel to manage their long-term health condition(s). In 2018/19, a smaller proportion of people from the most deprived areas (52%) said that they felt supported compared to people from the least deprived areas (63%). There is a strong correlation between feeling supported and the level of patient deprivation.

About this data

In 2018, two key changes were made to the GP Patient Survey:

  • The content of the questionnaire was changed significantly to reflect changes in the delivery of primary care services in England.
  • The sample frame was extended to include 16-17-year-olds for the first time to improve the inclusivity of the survey.

Analyses were carried out by Ipsos MORI to measure the impact of these changes on the comparability of trend data. These analyses found that trend data was subject to both context effects as a result of changes to the questionnaire and the inclusion of 16-17-year-olds. As a result, the data presented here from the GP Patient Surveys carried out from 2018 onwards are not comparable with results from previous surveys.

The data was weighted to adjust for differences between all patients at a GP surgery and the subset of patients who actually completed the questionnaire.

For more detailed information, please see the GP Patient Survey - Technical Annex.

The deprivation indicator used data from the NHS Outcomes Framework - Indicator 2.1. NHS Digital sourced their data from the GP Patient Survey, and directly standardised the percentage of people who felt supported to manage their long-term condition (LTC), and weighted the data for design and non-response. The 2018/19 deprivation data was calculated using the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) scores. For more information, see NHS Digital’s Indicator specification and Indicator Quality Statement.