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Press release: Royal College of Physicians responds to Queen's Speech

The Royal College of Physicians' president, and their special adviser on obesity have responded to the Queen's Speech.

Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “While it may be unsurprising in the current circumstances, the RCP nevertheless welcomes the fact that improving the health of the nation is a top priority for the government.

“The pandemic has demonstrated without doubt that our health and care system operates at capacity, with no room to deal with national emergencies while continuing to deliver routine care. We look forward to seeing the health and care bill, which we hope will include provision for an independent assessment of how many doctors, nurses and other health and care professionals we need.

“The government’s commitment to bring forward long overdue proposals on social care reform are very welcome. Investing in social care is key to making sure the NHS is not overwhelmed, particularly during the net 20 years as the population ages rapidly.

"A greater focus and funding for research and development, following the success of the UK life sciences industry during the pandemic, is also good news. But if we are to see more research in the NHS, we need to increase the workforce so people have time to be involved in it.

“The proposals to tackle obesity are significant, and will help the government meet its objective of ensuring that children have the best start in life. But we are disappointed that the speech did not mention improving funding for public health. We will continue to make the case for a cross-government strategy to reduce the health inequalities that have such a profound impact on the life chances of children across the UK.

“We await with interest government proposals to address racial and ethnic disparities, which include health inequalities. We hope that they will respond to the recommendation by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities that the government create an Office for Health Disparities.

“As we said at the time, whether such a body is created or its intended work remit is given to the new Office for Health Promotion, what matters is that we have a clear, unrelenting focus on understanding the causes of health inequalities. Whether we are talking about ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic status, it is clear that inequality is caused by the structures of our society, and the only thing that will change that is cross-government action.”

Professor Rachel Batterham, special adviser on obesity at the Royal College of Physicians, said:

"A total online junk food advertising ban in addition to the 9pm watershed is a hugely important and welcome step.

"It will make the biggest difference to children as it helps to prevent negative eating behaviours and sets them up for a healthier lifestyle.

"It is also recognition of the serious role obesity plays in ill health and why it needs to be regarded as a disease."