Major Conditions Strategy: overview and next steps for CVD health in the UK


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) care and treatment has been a key focus for the Government, highlighted in a number of strategies and policy reports in the last year. The Parliament has been vocal in addressing challenges in the CVD pathways and how these impact patient outcomes, such as cross-party debates on the issue. A recent debate titled ‘premature deaths in heart and circulatory diseases’, emphasised prevention methods and primary care strategies to ensure better health care outcomes for patients. However, more concrete steps include the announcement of the Major Conditions Strategy, aimed at improving patient outcomes in disease areas in the UK that cause the highest mortality in the UK, one of which is CVD.

The Major Conditions Strategy interim report was published six months ago, and the full strategy is expected in Spring 2024. The Strategy is intended to help those living with CVD and to tackle the underlying factors behind these conditions. At times, health inequalities become intertwined with areas such as CVD, which is the overarching framework of the strategy.

Overview of the Major Conditions Strategy

The Major Conditions Strategy aims to target five key areas. These include rebalancing the health and care system towards a personalised approach and preventing risk factors, embedding early diagnosis and treatment within the community, managing multiple conditions effectively, integrating physical and mental health services and finally shaping service and support around people to give them greater choice and control in their care pathways.

CVD Focus

On CVD, there is an existing commitment to make a digital NHS Health Check for CVD by Spring 2024. There has also been the development of an ‘ambitious vision for a personalised CVD prevention service in England through the taskforce led by Professor Deanfield, supported by £406 million for targeted services on CVD. Moreover, BP has launched an at-home programme to improve the management of hypertension with 220,000 pieces of home tech distributed since October 2020. The strategy has focused on using data to enable leaders to implement new approaches and technologies and transform cardiovascular prevention services, a national primary care audit also now offers near real-time data on hypertension and cholesterol.

CVD and AI approach in the Strategy  

The strategy also highlights the use of AI in tackling CVD. The Strategy aims to streamline screening programmes to ensure they are more efficient. The DHSC and NHS are working with AI developers to ensure they can access high-quality screening and optimise data to improve ways in which conditions are screened, diagnosed, treated and managed. This could result in saving time, making the best use of clinicians’ expertise, and improving outcomes for patients. The strategy also aims to secure an AI diagnostic fund to accelerate the rollout of AI technologies in the NHS, to ensure easier access to health information. The aim of AI integration into CVD in that strategy lies in the fact that if conditions are diagnosed earlier, it can improve the healthcare outcomes for patients and reduce the cost for the healthcare system.

Implications of the Major Conditions Strategy on future of CVD

The strategy emphasises the need for early detection through routine screenings and assessments. This could lead to the timely management of CVD, which would improve the quality of life of patients affected. Also highlighted in the strategy is the need for integrated care to improve outcomes for CVD. This approach would coordinate between different healthcare providers and services to ensure patients receive comprehensive and continuous care. Thirdly, the strategy emphasises the use of technology through the implementation of AI and data to improve the management of CVD by facilitating better monitoring, personalised treatment adjustments and enhanced patient-provider communication. Overall, the strategy is envisaged to have a substantial role in addressing health inequalities in CVD.


However, the benefits the Major Conditions Strategy could bring to tackling CVD must be viewed within the broader context of the UK political landscape. Due to the upcoming General Elections, there is a possibility that the Conservatives, who have overseen the strategy up to this point, may not oversee its publication or its implementation if they are no longer in Government. As a result, there are risks facing the Strategy, one being that the Government may delay its publication until election time to utilise it as a campaign tool, which would raise questions on the Strategy’s effectiveness; or a Labour victory could see the Strategy void altogether.