Labour’s Child Health Action Plan will create the healthiest generation of children ever

Keir Starmer sat at a table with a child

There is no more important indicator of the state of a country than the wellbeing of its children.

The future is our children and today they are suffering.

More face mental health issues with treatment too slow, more are going to hospital because of tooth decay, and more are growing up obese through no fault of their own.

The cause is clear. The nation’s children are the biggest casualty of the short term ‘sticking plaster’ politics of the last 14 years.

When the Government is deeply divided, on its fifth Prime Minister in seven years, and sees getting to the end of the week without catastrophe as a major success, then long term planning goes out the window. That is happening now – and children are suffering.

“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.

Keir Starmer MP

That’s why it’s time for a change. We need to restore our sense of what’s possible. That the future for our children can be the better, more prosperous and healthier. We need a bold new ambition: for this to be the healthiest generation of children ever.

A core mission of the next Labour government is to get the NHS back on its feet after 14 years of neglect under the Tories. By doing that, the health service will be able reverse the plummeting health outcomes our children suffer from.

Labour’s Child Health Action Plan:

1. Cut waiting lists for children

Labour will cut waiting times for planned paediatric services by getting the NHS working round the clock delivering two million more planned care appointments per year at evenings and weekends.

How will Labour pay for this?

By abolishing the non-dom tax status.

2. End the crisis in child mental health

Labour will tackle the crisis in children and young people’s mental health services by:

  • 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

How will Labour pay for this?

By abolishing tax loopholes for private equity fund managers and tax breaks for private schools.

3. Transform NHS dentistry

Labour will eliminate dental deserts and improve children’s oral health by:

  • Delivering 700,000 extra urgent dental appointments per year, so more children can see a dentist when they really need to.
  • Recruiting dentists to areas that need them with a targeted enhanced recruitment scheme.
  • Introducing a targeted national supervised toothbrushing programme for 3–5-year-olds in our fully funded breakfast clubs.

How will Labour pay for this?

By abolishing the non-dom tax status.

4. Crackdown on smoking and vaping

Labour will stop children and young people being exposed to the harmful effects of tobacco by:

  • Ensuring the incremental ban on smoking comes into force, so the next generation are not addicted.
  • Making all hospital trusts integrate ‘opt-out’ smoking cessation interventions into routine care, with a named lead on smoking cessation, so parents have all the support they need to quit.
  • Requiring tobacco companies to include information in tobacco products that dispels the myth that smoking reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Banning vapes from being branded and advertised to appeal to children.

5. Ban junk food advertising to children

Labour will tackle childhood obesity by:

  • 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.
  • Getting kids moving, by implementing a mandatory national curriculum that is balanced and broad, and makes a wide range of physical activities compulsory for all schools.

6. Introduce breakfast clubs for all primary school 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.

How will Labour pay for this?

By abolishing the non-dom tax status.

7. Protect children from the growth of infectious diseases

Deliver on the NHS workforce plan, training more health visitors so parents and babies get the best possible support.

  • Reforming the service to allow health visitors to administer routine immunisations to vulnerable and at-risk children, ensuring more are protected from infectious diseases.

Labour’s missions

Get the NHS back on its feet

Our mission to build an NHS that is fit for the future
Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting speaking with lab technicians

Labour’s new approach to deliver the Child Health Action Plan

Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting with paramedic in a hospital room

A neighbourhood NHS

Labour will shift care out of the hospital and into the community.

This means:

  • Allowing for different routes to access referrals (subject to advice from NICE), saving GPs time by allowing professionals like opticians to refer children who need more serious healthcare interventions.
  • Training more health visitors so parents don’t always end up having to seek help from the GP or A&E because they can’t get the advice they need about their baby’s health.
  • Bringing back the family doctor by cutting red tape so GPs can spend their time seeing patients rather than on admin, and introducing an incentive to provide continuity of care.
  • Joining up health and care service by trialling community health centres in each area, bringing together professionals like GPs, district nurses, physiotherapists, dentists, and pharmacists under one roof.

A digital NHS

Labour will shift from an analogue system to a digital one .

This means:

  • Making the NHS app a one-stop shop for health information and making sure every parent has the information and skills they need to give their child the best start in life.
  • Digitising the Red Book (Children’s Health Record) to make it easier to access health records for parents and children, informing the best choices.
  • Improving coordination between education, the health service, social care and the wider services that support families by piloting the expansion of a children’s number, ensuring that no child falls through the gaps.
  • Introducing a new Fit for the Future fund, paid for by abolishing non-dom tax status so we can double the number of high tech, artificial intelligence enabled scanners in the NHS, to aid early diagnostics and bring down the waiting list.

A prevention-first NHS

Labour will shift the focus of the health system towards prevention with a goal to improve healthy life expectancy for all and halve the gap in healthy life expectancy between different regions of England within ten years.

The next Labour government will shift the focus of government departments, the NHS, and wider public services to prevention by embedding long-term planning.

This means:

  • Catching problems early, with healthcare in communities so people don’t allow problems to fester, and stat-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to get results as soon as possible.
  • Creating a national framework that ensures focus and innovation across government, business, public services, and civil society is targeted towards delivering this long-term goal.
  • Establishing a mission delivery board at the heart of Government to tackle poor health bringing together all departments with an influence over the social determinants of health.

This action plan represents an important stepping stone on the way to the Labour Manifesto which will be issued close to the election date. It represents a fresh approach and a renewed sense of purpose for health.