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We campaign for everyone to receive the best treatment and care wherever they live in the UK, based on the latest evidence - addressing the crisis in Head and Neck cancers.

head and neck cancer

Oracle’s response to the Major Conditions Strategy 2023

The UK's Department of Health and Social Care will introduce a new 'Major Conditions Strategy' that aims to ease the burden of the most common diseases on the healthcare system across the country. Despite the UK government's prior commitment to a decade-long cancer plan in 2022, this new strategy for major conditions will take over moving forward. 

The strategy will focus on six major groups of conditions: cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, dementia, mental ill health, and musculoskeletal disorders. 

It aims to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of these conditions. It also aims to reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life for people with major conditions. 

This new strategy will undoubtedly impact Head and Neck cancer patients because it will affect the rate of earlier cancer diagnosis, access to healthcare services, and the prioritisation of quality-of-life post-treatment. Additionally, it will affect the crucial role of mental health support for cancer patients. The government must create a comprehensive implementation plan to ensure cancer isn’t ignored at the expense of other problems facing the NHS, as this has contributed the failure of cancer strategies in past years. It is not enough to simply propose this strategy, its progress must be monitored constantly. 

Tamara Kahn, CEO of Oracle Cancer Trust says: 

“We are facing a crisis in Head and Neck cancer and the government needs to act now before more lives are devastatingly impacted by this relatively unknown form of cancers. We hear about the health inequalities that are happening across the country daily, and it is more important now than ever before that we join together in the race to overcome the Head and Neck cancer crisis.” 

How the strategy will affect earlier diagnosis of cancers: 

Under the new Major Conditions Strategy, NHSE claims it will ensure 75% of people with cancer are diagnosed at an early stage by 2028. However, achieving this goal requires increased awareness, particularly for Head and Neck cancers, which often go unrecognized. It is vital for the public to be aware of key symptoms that persist for three or more weeks. 

People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical evaluation promptly. It is equally crucial for primary healthcare professionals to be aware of these symptoms, enabling them to fast-track individuals to the appropriate specialists. Unless awareness is raised effectively, the new strategy will not deliver the results we need. 

Our response to the Major Conditions strategy, in partnership with the Head and Neck cancer coalition 

Ensuring that patients can easily make appointments with their local General Practitioners or General Dental Practitioners is essential. The lack of available dental services is a significant concern, particularly for head and neck cancer patients, as General Dental Practitioners are often the source of early cancer diagnoses. Dental and oral health should not be overlooked, as it plays a critical role in overall health and well-being. 

Survival is not the sole measure of success post-cancer treatment; quality of life is equally crucial. Many head and neck cancer patients face life-altering challenges after treatment, such as appearance, speech, eating, and swallowing difficulties, as well as psychological effects. Post-treatment support, including access to Specialist Restorative Dentistry and funding for dental implants, is vital. Patients' needs and the inequalities they face should be addressed to ensure everyone has the opportunity for a good quality of life, regardless of their circumstances. 

In conclusion, our response to the new Major Conditions Strategy highlights essential areas for improvement in cancer care. By increasing awareness of symptoms, ensuring equal access to healthcare services, and prioritizing patients' quality of life, we can take significant strides in enhancing cancer treatment and support. Addressing mental health concerns is equally vital, as it plays a crucial role in a patient's overall well-being during and after their cancer journey. By implementing these key points, we can work towards a more comprehensive and compassionate approach to cancer care. 

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Oracle Cancer Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1142037). A company limited by guarantee. Registered company in England and Wales (7125497). Registered address: 80 Coombe Road, New Malden KT3 4QS