The Government’s plan to tackle major conditions and multimorbidity over the next five years will focus on improving population health through ‘lifestyle drivers’ and early diagnosis.
Ahead of the full major conditions strategy, due next year, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has today published a strategic framework which is based on initial conversations with stakeholders including NHS staff, service users, carers and charities.
Health secretary Steve Barclay first announced the strategy early this year and listed the six target conditions as: cancers; cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and diabetes; chronic respiratory diseases; dementia; mental ill health; and musculoskeletal disorders.
The first focus of the strategy will be ‘primary prevention’ which includes interventions across the population to reduce the risk of disease, for example schemes to increase physical activity.
It will also look to improve early diagnosis and ‘secure more equitable access to diagnosis’ in order to boost health outcomes for people with major conditions.
Today’s interim report suggests that AI could be used to ‘streamline’ screening programmes so they are more efficient.
DHSC said it is working with NHS and AI developers ‘to ensure they are able to access the necessary high-quality, diverse and representative screening imaging data needed to develop and test AI products’.
The other strands of the strategy include: secondary prevention, such as NHS health checks and weight management services; prompt and urgent care; and long-term care and treatment.
According to DHSC, one in four adults has at least two health conditions, and the strategy’s six conditions together account for over 60% of ill health and early death in England.
As well as the five target areas for improvement, the Government’s strategy will have the broader goals of making care more personalised, aligning physical and mental health services more closely, and giving patients greater choice over their care.
The strategic framework also said the department will focus on managing multiple conditions effectively through ‘embedding generalist and specialist skills within teams, organisations and individual clinicians’.
Writing about the major conditions strategy in June, the health secretary suggested that the NHS treats patients’ health conditions ‘separately’, but some GPs said this revealed a blatant misunderstanding of what GPs do.
In June, the Government and NHS England launched its first-ever long-term workforce plan which pledged to double medical school places and increase GP training places by 50% by 2031.