Houses of Parliament from Vauxhall Embankment at night

The Government has published its Major conditions strategy: case for change and our strategic framework, which sets out its approach for health in England over the next five years. Jenny Edwards CBE, Chair of People’s Health Trust, responded:

“The Government will fail to tackle major health conditions until it tackles their root causes. Major conditions reflect substantial health inequalities and absolutely require a coordinated approach across Government.

People cannot sustain their health if they have to go without the building blocks of health, including adequate nutrition, decent housing, good jobs, income that covers the essentials, healthy local environments and strong social connections.

While we welcome the commitment to research on health inequalities and the social determinants of health there needs also to be a commitment to follow-up action to address root causes. The Government must move from evidence to action, addressing health inequalities and the factors that determine health in the final strategy.”

In May, the Government announced a call for evidence for a new major conditions strategy for England, seeking views on how to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage six groups of health conditions including: cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, dementia, mental ill health, and musculoskeletal disorders. The previously promised Health Disparities White Paper and the 10-year Mental Health Strategy will both in theory be subsumed in the future Major Conditions Strategy. The Framework that has now been published will be followed by further consultation in 2024, so it is unlikely that a final version of the strategy will emerge soon. The People’s Health Trust response stressed that the whole of Government needs to buy in to tackling health inequalities. Most of what influences public health happens outside the NHS so policies to address the cost-of-living crisis, benefit levels, poor and insecure housing and the mental health stress of living at the edge are critical to improving upstream prevention and people’s chances of living with better health.