An initial “strategic framework” has been published by the government as a prelude to its forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy (MCS) for England, which will set out plans for tackling six health conditions including dementia over the next five years.
In his foreword to the framework, which is the “interim report” he promised when announcing the combined strategy in January, health secretary Steve Barclay said the government had undertaken a “wide ranging engagement” which had shown that people can find it hard to navigate a fragmented system that is not always well placed to support people with more than one condition.
Apart from dementia the MCS will cover the five other major conditions which the government says account in total for 60% of the years lost to early death or living with ill-health – cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental ill-health, respiratory disease and muscular-skeletal disorders. Justifying the combined strategy, the new framework forecasts that by 2035 two-thirds of adults aged over 65 will have two or more conditions and 17% will have four or more.
The framework flags up a focus on early diagnosis, prompt care delivery, long-term care and treatment, and prevention including halting the progression of conditions. Change will be prioritised in five areas: health and care “rebalanced” towards proactive prevention that manages personalised risk factors; early diagnosis and treatment embedded in the community; managing multiple conditions with a mix of generic and specialist professionals; integration of physical and mental health services; and giving people more choice and control over their care.
In a section of the report specifically on dementia, the government repeats its pledges to restore diagnosis rates to the pre-pandemic figure of 67% and to double dementia research funding to £160 million annually by 2024/25. “NHS [England] will continue mapping Alzheimer’s disease medicines and explore establishing a steering group to ensure the system is ready to deploy any new treatments,” the report adds.
Alzheimer’s Research UK head of policy David Thomas said: “This is a step in the right direction. Now we need to see rapid action if the strategy is to deliver, not just for people who are living with dementia, but for those who are anxiously waiting for diagnosis, and those who are at risk of developing it in the future.”
Click HERE to read the strategic framework