25 August, 2023

The Major Conditions Strategy (MCS) has become a hot topic in health since the Government first floated it in January 2023. We recently received an interim report on the progress of the MCS.

The principle behind the MCS is to draw six conditions together into one plan to be tackled with overlapping initiatives. The conditions are:

  • Cancers
  • Cardiovascular disease, including stroke and diabetes
  • Chronic respiratory diseases
  • Dementia
  • Mental ill health
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

To quote the Government

“The condition groups we are focusing on account for around 60% of ill health and early mortality in England. Tackling them is essential if we are to make progress on delivery of our levelling-up mission to gain five extra years of healthy life expectancy by 2035 and narrow the gap in healthy life expectancy by 2030.”

What does this mean for breast cancer?

This represents a broad-stroke approach to improving public health.  It is undeniable that if all of us exercised more, drank less alcohol and improved our diet, there would be a positive impact on the number and severity of cases of the above conditions.

Understanding that factors overlap and affect different aspects of our health is a sensible approach to public health and strengthens the argument for a focus on prevention in healthcare.

However, we should remember that it was previously Government policy to have a standalone Cancer Strategy. The nature of a multi-condition strategy means that conditions will not get the required depth of coverage. More concerningly for us will be the lack of focus on making health a consideration across all the Government’s work.

What should we be doing?

We have long argued that high-quality health policy is only possible if the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs work together to reflect the impact of chemicals in our environment in future health policy. Put simply, the approach of the MCS risks creating superficial policy.

If we are going to reduce the number of breast cancer cases correctly and comprehensively, and indeed if we are serious about putting prevention at the heart of healthcare, we need a standalone Cancer Strategy. A strategy with the scope and space to look at an issue as complex as cancer, take stock of the TracerX study and its implications for cancer care and set out a thorough, long-term plan.

How you can help

To help us achieve this, you must write to your local MP, asking them to back a standalone Cancer Strategy. You can find their address here and use our template letter.

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