Health questions for the Election
Here are some important questions we need to ask each of the parties about their health policies, in the run up to December's election.
We’re not talking about the usual pledges to give the NHS more funding, welcome as that is if it materializes. The nation’s health depends on far more than the NHS. As we all know prevention is better than cure.
Take the news story reported on the BBC – about the teenager who has gone blind because he lived on a diet of chips, crisps, white bread and ham, so wasn’t getting the vitamins he needed. What we eat is just one of a range of factors that can have a big influence on our health.
So, check the party manifestos to see what they are proposing to:
1. Improve child health, as the building block for long term mental and physical health.
2. Reduce the health risks from mass produced food and drink – by reducing sugar, salt and saturated fat.
3. Encourage physical activity throughout people's lives.
4. Reduce binge drinking and smoking.
5. Tackle the social inequality that fuels health inequality.
6. Give deprived communities and the people in them employment, hope and purpose in life.
7. Reduce air pollution.
8. Incentivize employers to encourage health at work.
9. Learn from successful health initiatives in other countries – for example initiatives that have reduced childhood obesity in France, the Netherlands and Denmark.
10. Ensure the NHS does more to prevent illness (including mental illness) not just treat it.
These are the kind of actions needed if we're going to improve health in the UK.