Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has published strategy documents on tackling premature mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The DH strategy on premature mortality calls for improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disorders and liver disease.
The CVD strategy emphasises treating CVD as a single family of diseases with integrated NHS treatment, and making wider use of NHS Health Checks.
Hunt pointed to a current report in the Lancet, according to which the level of premature deaths in the UK has fallen in the last decade but remains higher than in most of Europe.
He claimed that the measures outlined in the two strategy documents could save 30,000 lives by 2020.
Key actions outlined in the CVD strategy include:
• Providing integrated and co-ordinated care by treating CVD as a single family of diseases, and ending the pattern of ‘silo consulting’.
• Using NHS Health Checks to improve the prevention and management of CVD with targeted advice and support.
• Ending the postcode variation in treatment of CVD.
• Better detection and management of CVD risk factors such as atrial fibrillation.
Peter Hollins, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, commented: “We welcome the Outcomes Strategy. It has all the ingredients to tackle the threat posed by cardiovascular diseases, which remain the major public health challenge of our time. We are particularly pleased to see the emphasis on an integrated approach to patients with multiple conditions.”
The strategy document on avoiding premature mortality argued that over half of premature deaths (under the age of 75) could be prevented through more effective public health.
It highlighted the need to address the increasing prevalence of multiple morbidities, where individuals suffer from two or more major conditions.
Alongside action on risk factors and lifestyles, the strategy called on the NHS Commissioning Board to facilitate early diagnosis and “access to the right treatment”, with consistency of outcomes between hospitals.
The document did not explain how, with hospitals that meet clinical targets but overspend facing closure, the emphasis on treatment quality would be funded.