Responding to Wes Streeting, Labour's Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary’s speech at the Labour party conference, Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“We have long called for a focus on reducing avoidable illness and tackling health inequalities, so we welcome the vision for transforming the health of the nation.
“The best way to shape ill health is to focus on the factors that shape it. The RCP and the Inequalities in Health Alliance want to see a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities. To reduce avoidable illness action is needed on the root causes of illness like poor housing, employment, air quality and racism and discrimination. The commitment to restrict the advertising of junk food to children is a welcome example of the bold action that is needed on prevention.
“Fixing social care is key to enabling people to live as independently as possible, as well as supporting flow through hospitals, so plans that ensure health and social care are funded and staffed to work as equal partners would be good news. We look forward to further detail on Labour’s plans for a national care service.
“As we’ve said, a national expansion of ‘catch up’ clinics to move through waiting lists would be welcome, but the devil will be in the detail to ensure it is widely and fairly available and that staff can work through lists in a targeted and effective way.
“As ever, workforce is central to the success of the NHS now and in the long-term. Prioritising the retention of existing of staff must be a priority. Being able to work flexibly, not facing discrimination and harassment at work, having efficient IT and equipment, time off for significant events, hot food and drink and time to fulfil their professional duties will all make a difference. We welcome Labour’s commitment to expanding NHS staff – but a focus on improving working conditions alongside is key."