Major Conditions Strategy

Health secretary Steve Barclay held out the prospect of a government Major Conditions Strategy designed to tackle six health conditions including dementia.

Barclay told the House of Commons that the policy would mark a shift to “integrated, whole-person care,” alleviating pressure on the health system, increasing healthy life expectancy and reducing health-related unemployment.

The major conditions targeted by the strategy – dementia, cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, mental ill-health and musculoskeletal disorders – accounted for 60% of total healthy life years lost because of illness or disability, Barclay said.

“This is about shifting our model towards preserving good health, and the early detection and treatment of diseases,” he said. “By harnessing innovation and technology we are increasingly capable of detecting diseases at an early stage, in some cases before symptoms emerge. Intervening at this point will reduce demand downstream on health and care services.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) welcomed the government’s commitment to increase healthy life expectancy and said that better brain health should be a key part of the strategy.

“Given the scale of the challenges that the UK health and care system is facing, the government’s holistic approach aimed at breaking down the walls between how different diseases are managed is welcome and sensible,” said Samantha Benham-Hermetz, ARUK director of policy and public affairs. “As part of this vision, Alzheimer’s Research UK wants to see the government champion the concept of brain health.”

Barclay left it unclear when the final strategy will be published, although he did say that an interim report would be published in the summer.