Starmer pledges the healthiest generation of children ever as Labour launches Child Health Action Plan

Sir Keir Starmer has today promised to end the scandal of plummeting child health outcomes over the last 14 years as he unveils a new ‘Child Health Action Plan’ to create the healthiest and happiest generation of children ever in Britain.

Ahead of a visit to a leading children’s hospital, the Labour leader slammed the Conservatives’ record, asserting that “the biggest casualty of short term ‘sticking plaster’ politics of the last 14 years are the nation’s children”.

Labour’s Child Health Action Plan comes as bleak OECD data shows that British children are increasingly falling not only victim to poor health outcomes, but falling behind their international counterparts. The party reveals that British children today are smaller than Haitian children, fatter than the French, and less happy than the Turks.

The height of the average British five-year old girl has fallen by 27 places in international rankings over the last three decades, with the average British five-year-old boy has fallen by 33 places on the height league table.

Data around child obesity is similarly stark with the UK estimated to have more obese children than France, Germany, Poland and Slovenia. When it comes to mental health, the picture for British children is heartbreaking with 200,000 children on an English mental health waiting list.

The commitment to secure the healthiest generation of children ever is underpinned by Starmer’s mission to make the NHS fit for the future. One of the Labour leader’s five missions for his government, it will see more care delivered in the community, a prevention-first approach and more digital access in the NHS, such as parents able to better manage their children’s healthcare using the NHS App.

The record of the Conservative Government over 14 years is a stall on decades of progress on healthy life expectancy, in stark contrast to that of the previous Labour government. Keir Starmer’s focus on child health echoes the efforts of the last Labour government, which improved health outcomes and reduced regional inequality with a focus on prevention.

With Labour, life expectancy increased by more than three years. After 14 years of the Conservatives, overall average life expectancy has increased by just four months, and is actually declining for men.

Labour’s Child Health Action Plan is based around three simple goals for Britain’s future, each of which is supported by bold action as first steps on the road to delivery.

A future where children are healthy:

*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
*A free breakfast club in every primary school so every child is able to start the day with a healthy breakfast and parents are able to get to work
*Banning vapes from being advertised to appeal to children, and make sure that the incremental smoking ban passes through Parliament
*Introducing a targeted national supervised toothbrushing programme for three-to-five year-olds in our fully funded breakfast clubs.

A future where children are happy:

*Cutting waiting lists for mental health services by recruiting thousands more staff
*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.

A future where children can get the NHS care they need:

*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
*Delivering 700,000 extra urgent dental appointments per year and recruit dentists to areas most in need, so more children can see a dentist when they really need one
*Creating a cross-departmental mission delivery board that prioritises child health and includes a focus on inequalities, well-being, physical and mental health.

Announcing the launch of Labour’s Child Health Action Plan, 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 will end the scandal of children being held back by poor health and regional inequalities, by slashing waits for mental health treatment and hospital appointment, putting prevention first, and fixing NHS dentistry.

“That’s the future our children and young people deserve, and that’s the future a Labour Government will deliver.”