RESIDENTS in east Durham living with long-term medical conditions are being offered a chance to better manage their illnesses.

The Expert Patients Programme, developed by the Department of Health, assists people in developing skills to deal with the daily difficulties of living with asthma, arthritis, back pain, diabetes, heart conditions and multiple sclerosis.

The course is designed to complement medical treatments and explores issues such as finding information, talking to health professionals, managing pain and fatigue and coping with depression.

Sara Scott, patient and public development officer for Easington Primary Care Trust, said: "The Expert Patient courses are made up of small groups of people living with various long-term conditions and are led by trained volunteers who themselves are living with a long-term condition.

"Sessions are informal and friendly and people are encouraged to come along and share skills and techniques. There is no homework set, or writing required, but people will receive a free book full of tips to help manage their condition."

The next course will run from Thursday, over six consecutive weeks.

Each session will take place between 1pm and 3.30pm, at Horden Welfare Hall. The courses are free and include refreshments. Transport will be provided if needed.

For more information, telephone 0191-587 6002.