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RCP responds to Labour's Child Health Action Plan

The Royal College of Physicians has responded to Labour's Child Health Action Plan. Announced at the launch of Labour's Health Mission Tour in Manchester yesterday, which was attended by president of the Royal College of Physicians, Dr Sarah Clarke, the plan aims to 'create the healthiest generation of children ever'.

Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said:

“The RCP welcomes Labour’s prevention first approach to improving the health of future generations. Good health starts in childhood. With 9.1 million people in England projected to be living with major illness by 2040, inaction on increasing rates of ill health will be catastrophic for our health service. Reducing health inequalities and avoidable illness is key to reducing avoidable demand on the NHS.

“Ill health is a product of where we live, our work (including how much money we have), the air we breathe, the discrimination we face, our access to transport and open green spaces – and many more factors. Pledged action such as introducing a 9pm watershed for junk food advertising on television, supporting legislation to achieve a smoke-free generation, and establishing a cross-department mission delivery board with a focus on inequalities will make a positive difference. Only through action across every government department, pulling every policy lever available, will we be able to reduce the social determinants which lead to ill health.

“We also welcome Labour’s pledge to double the number of MRI and CT scanners which play such a vital role in diagnostics – that must come alongside a funded expansion in the number of doctors, including specialty training places, and projections of staffing numbers required to meet future demands."

Notes to editors

  • The RCP strongly supports the recently introduced ‘smoke-free generation’ legislation. As outlined in our recent response to the government consultation on smoking and vaping, we support measures to reduce the appeal of vapes to children but do not recommend the wholesale limiting of vaping due to the role it can play helping adults to stop smoking.
  • A December 2022 survey of RCP members found that almost a third (31%) said they had seen more patients with illness due to their living conditions in the prior three months.
  • As the convenor of the Inequalities in Health Alliance, a coalition of over 250 organisations calling for a cross government strategy to reduce health inequalities, the RCP welcomed Labour’s commitment to a cross-departmental mission delivery board and the commitment to prioritise child health with a focus on inequalities.
  • This week, the Institute of Health Equity at University College London led by Sir Michael Marmot revealed that more than 1 million people in England died prematurely in the decade after 2011 due to health inequalities.