Health matters

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.

AS PART of our ongoing series of health columns, Julie Hirst, public health specialist for NHS Derbyshire County, including Buxton and the High Peak, talks about long-term health problems.

Around a third of people in England now suffer from a long-term health problem, a number which rises to half in the over 60s. They are also the group who most frequently use healthcare services.

However, the wonders of modern medicine now mean that many patients can live with serious long-term health problems for decades by controlling them.

With supported supervision most people with a long-term health problem can take steps to improve their quality of life by understanding what happens to their body and learning how to recognise and react to symptoms by themselves. So, it’s important that anyone who suffers from a long-term health problem knows as much as they can about their condition – as failure to do so can lead to unnecessary hospital stays.

Making healthy lifestyle choices, stopping smoking, losing weight, eating healthily and exercise are key for maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

So, if you are a patient with a long-term illness I would urge you to take advantage of practical help available, including courses run in the area which empower people to treat themselves better.

You should always ensure that you never run out of medication, take all prescriptions as directed by your GP, and have a standby prescription handy for times of need.

Easy-to-follow ‘information prescriptions’ can be downloaded from

These provide a directory of services available to sufferers and handy information on specific conditions.

Alternatively patients can call 0800 783 7279 for a copy.