Three primary care trusts will be chosen next month to deliver hardware worth thousands of pounds to the homes of patients with long-term conditions, according to Department of Health head of primary care Gary Belfield.

He told a conference on long-term conditions management last week that three pilots would be chosen in May from a shortlist of PCTs applying for millions of pounds of DoH money for home-based care.

The 'whole-system demonstrator sites', will begin work in July and if successful over the next two years, the scheme would be rolled out across the NHS 'quite hard', said Mr Belfield.

The 'telecare' machines, such as blood pressure gauges, are likely to cost£5,000 or more for each household, and will cover four conditions: diabetes, chronic heart disease, the frail elderly, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These will be monitored remotely by a community matron who can follow it up with a call or visit.

The DoH estimates that around 7,000-8,000 people per million of population in each pilot area will benefit from the facilities. Mr Belfield said the DoH would work with Connecting for Health to ensure the pilot systems supported a shared heath and social care record.