The Labour Party has pledged to create the ‘healthiest and happiest’ generation of British children ever if it wins the next general election.
Announcing a child action plan today, the party pledged to create a ‘mission delivery board’ within government which prioritises child health.
And it said it would cut waiting lists for children’s mental health services by recruiting thousands more staff.
Other pledges include:
- Implementing the 9pm watershed for junk food advertising on television and ban paid-for advertising of less healthy foods on online media aimed at children;
- Banning vapes from being advertised to appeal to children, and make sure that the incremental smoking ban passes through Parliament;
- Introducing specialist mental health support for children and young people in every school;
- Delivering an open-access children and young people’s mental health hub for every community;
- Cutting paediatric waiting times by delivering two million more operations, scans and appointments;
- Giving the NHS the tools and tech it needs to see children more quickly by doubling the number of MRI and CT scanners.
The plan will focus on ensuring children are healthy, happy, and that they can get NHS care when they need it, Labour said.
The party also repeated a pledge to fund an extra 700,000 urgent NHS dental appointments and to introduce supervised toothbrushing for three to five-year-olds in schools.
British children are falling behind their international counterparts, according to OECD data quoted by the party.
This included stats showing that:
- The height of the average British five-year old boy having fallen 33 places in international rankings over the last 30 years.
- The UK is estimated to have more obese children than France, Germany, Poland, and Slovenia, as well as 200,000 children on the waiting list for English mental health services, it also showed.
- In 2023, one in five children and young people in England aged eight to 25 had a probable mental health disorder, while almost a quarter of children in year six had obesity.
Labour has claimed that children were the ‘biggest casualty’ of the Conservative Party’s last 14 years in power.
Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘Tooth decay, stunted growth and stalling life expectancy should be consigned to the history books, but instead they’re the reality of Tory Britain.
‘The biggest casualty of the short term ‘sticking plaster’ politics of the last 14 years are our nation’s children. My Labour government will turn this around.
‘Healthy, happy children is not a nice-to-have, it’s a basic right, with economic urgency. We want the next generation to be chasing their dreams, not a dentist appointment. They should be aspiring to reach their potential, not reach a doctor.’
Labour has also promised to achieve faster ambulance responses, shorter A&E waiting times, and for patients to be seen by a GP when they need, within five years.