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Eight tests for success for the Major Conditions Strategy

National Voices, the leading coalition of health and social care charities in England, has laid out eight requirements the Major Conditions Strategy (MCS) must meet to ensure it is successfully developed and implemented.

  • Integrated care
  • Person-centred care
  • Lived experience
  • Health inequalities

National Voices sits on the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) MCS External Advisory Group to ensure the needs of patients are central to discussions. To date, this group has successfully influenced the strategy to ensure it takes a life course approach (include children and young people within its scope). We have also successfully encouraged the DHSC to draw on the existing evidence base previously gathered from communities and the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector on mental health, cancer and dementia.

Today the government has released its “case for change” on how the country approaches the management of major conditions. This document draws on evidence from hundreds of individuals and organisations including a submission from National Voices which was developed in partnership with our members and Lived Experience Partners.

We particularly welcome the emphasis placed on getting primary prevention right, and want to see work on addressing the wider determinants of health go further in the next phase of the MCS development. We also agree the big opportunity with the MCS is to think beyond specific conditions and focus more on how we help the growing numbers of people with multiple complex needs.

To assist the government in the next stage of development, National Voices is urging it to adopt the eight requirements the coalition believes the strategy must meet if it is to be successful.

These are:

  1. Feel real to people and communities – The strategy needs to be bold and paint an optimistic view of the future, one where the opportunities of integrated care have been realised and technology is also being used to deliver cutting edge care. However, it must acknowledge that the system is under huge pressure and set out a realistic trajectory of improvement to rebuild public trust in the NHS.
  2. Show how funding and resourcing will meet demands – The strategy must set out how any extra financial and workforce support will be sufficient to implement the changes needed.
  3. Improve people’s experience of accessing care – The ambition should be to create a ‘one stop shop’ approach for people with multiple conditions.
  4. Take a broad view of prevention – It must take an all-ages and cross-government “health in all policies” approach that tackles the wider social injustices that cause poor health.
  5. Tackle health inequalities – The strategy must be situated within wider social inequalities and discrimination that can impact people’s health and wellbeing.
  6. Make people feel empowered – DHSC must work meaningfully with people with lived experience to co-design and co-produce the MCS at all stages of its development and implementation to ensure the choices offered to people are meaningful.
  7. Cover people’s differing needs at different stages of their life – It must lay out how it intends to take a life-course approach which covers significant change points in people’s lives such as transitioning from child to adult health care.
  8. Place patient experience at the centre of success measurements – Basing success on healthy life expectancy must be supported by a range of metrics more focused on user experience and outcomes.

Jacob Lant, Chief Executive of National Voices, said:

The Major Conditions Strategy has the opportunity to transform the healthcare system by overcoming traditional condition-specific silos and identifying and addressing cross-cutting improvements that could be beneficial for everyone, not just people living with the six major conditions.

We’ve been encouraged by how far the government has shown willingness to listen and respond to challenge from the VCSE sector on the MCS during its early development.

We now need the final version to clearly lay out achievable short and long-term goals which have been designed in conjunction with the people and communities it aims to help.

An innovative yet practical strategy, delivered with adequate funding and resourcing, has the ability to help people live happier, healthier, and longer lives.

This short report, launched today, outlines our eight requirements in more depth.