RCPCH responds to Labour’s Health Mission

Today (22 May) the Labour party published its mission for the NHS, laying out several proposed policies relating to child health and inequalities.
Icon: Checklist with pen, in a dark blue circle on a bright blue background

In response to the launch of Labour’s Health Mission, Dr Camilla Kingdon, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: 

It is now a fact that England has some of the worst child health outcomes in Europe, with child health inequalities continuing to widen and backlogs for children at record highs. Paediatricians are doing everything in their power to address these challenges, but they cannot act alone. We need a laser like focus and clear policies on child health from all political parties. 

We have long called for the introduction of policies that give children the building blocks for a healthy life. Last year paediatricians in their thousands urged politicians to be bold on poverty, as a key driver of child health inequalities. It is a step in the right direction to see this recognised today with a pledge from Labour to root out health inequalities and address rising child poverty. 

We need decisive action on public health, and it is positive to hear Labour’s strong recognition of policies to tackle the flood of junk food adverts, to address poor air quality and the dramatic increase in children vaping. It is welcome that our concerns on vaping have been heard with both main parties indicating a clear desire to act. 

Earlier this month, the College marked the regrettable milestone of over 400,000 children waiting for hospital treatment. Almost 20,000 of these children have waited for treatment for over a year. A recommitment from Labour to existing NHS targets including getting patients to treatment within 18 weeks of referral is positive. Within this, we continue to call on decision makers not to forget the unique needs and challenges faced by child health services. 

As committed paediatricians, we are unwavering in our advocacy for children in health, education, and social policy. We know our NHS will only be fit in the future with a focus on children. We continue to urge the UK Government and all political parties ahead of the next General Election to set out a clear and ambitious vision for child health.