NHS must change to deal with millions suffering many major illnesses

The time has come to deliver better, joined-up and holistic care to address the needs of patients, Health Secretary Steve Barclay says.

The call comes as the alarming severity of six of the most major groups of conditions becomes apparent.

For decades the most serious illnesses have been treated in isolation, despite often overlapping.

The Government’s yet-to-be-published Major Conditions Strategy will strive to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage six major groups of conditions that contribute to disease in England – specifically cancer, cardiovascular conditions, including stroke and diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, dementia, mental ill-health and musculoskeletal disorders.

One in four suffers from two or more of these long-term conditions.

But major charities have raised concerns the strategy will “water down” focus on tackling diseases in isolation.

Writing for the Express, Mr Barclay said: “For too long our healthcare services have treated these conditions separately.

“Joining up health and care is crucial…Our forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy will set the blueprint for doing that.”

The strategy is still in the consultation phase and Mr Barclay says he wants input from Express readers. It sets out an intention to improve care and outcomes for those with multiple conditions and an increasing complexity of need.

Diabetes sufferers are twice as likely to have depression, while nine in 10 dementia patients have another long-term condition, and half of people with a heart or lung condition have musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain.

It will seek to reduce care and treatment that are too narrowly focused and treat people as a whole.

But some fear lumping diseases together will ultimately mean less cash for research and cures. Projections by Cancer Research UK reveal the number hit by the killer disease will increase by almost one tenth on current figures.

And diabetes is now one of the fastest growing health emergencies in Britain, costing the NHS £15billion a year or £1million an hour. Chris Askew, of Diabetes UK, said: “The Government must commit to tackling this diabetes care crisis in its strategy.”

Daily Express columnist and former World Health Organisation cancer chief Karol Sikora said: “The NHS needs to get back to basics – make a fair pay deal with the frontline staff, ditch the political correctness and cut back the bureaucracy. Put patient care at the front and centre of everything.”

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