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National Voices’ contribution to the APHG surrounding the Major Conditions Strategy

On 22 March the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Health (APHG) met to discuss the Major Conditions Strategy, and hear from key voices from the health and care sector on the views on the strategy, including National Voices’ Sarah Sweeney.

  • Ask How I Am
  • Lived experience
  • Communication and administration
  • Health inequalities

During the session, Sarah highlighted insights gathered from across the National Voices coalition.

In her reflections, Sarah noted that National Voices welcomes a focus on holistic, person-centred care, whilst recognising the need to go about things differently in strategy development to achieve this. Sarah raised the key opportunity within the strategy to address the silos in care for people with co-existence of physical health and mental health condition, as reflected in National Voices and Centre for Mental Health’s Ask How I Am report. 

Key points provided by Sarah, collated from discussions with our members, included:  

  • Ensuring that voices of people who shared their experiences for the 10 Year Cancer Plan, Mental Health Plan and Dementia Plan are not lost. 
  • Addressing the very real and understandable concerns mental health, cancer and dementia charities have that the issues they focus on will not be covered in as much detail, or with as much long-term planning, as previously promised. 
  • The importance of getting the basics right – good admin and communications, routine care for major conditions, meeting diverse communication needs. The need to take a cross-Government approach to tackle the causes of the causes of preventable ill health – poverty, racism, poor housing, educational inequalities, unhealthy workplaces. Recognising the necessity to learn from and build on successes from the past. 
  • Disappointment at the loss of the Disparities White Paper, highlighting concerns that health inequalities are slipping down the agenda at a time when the Government should be focussing on them more than ever. 

Finally, Sarah addressed the importance of helping individuals to live well with a condition, acknowledging that it is not simply a diagnosis people want. In order to provide this support, the NHS needs to know about organisations within the voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector to signpost to. This would mark a much-needed step towards providing people with the right support to feel confident and equipped to self-manage their conditions, and make what matters to people matter in health and care.