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HomePolitics'The Labour manifesto's health policies – and their little-noticed radicalism' - LabourList

'The Labour manifesto's health policies – and their little-noticed radicalism' – LabourList


Labour launched a manifesto today in front of a single word: change. It’s a powerful message to a country desperately in need of it, but the party could’ve chosen two more. ‘Growth’ and ‘health’. These run right through the manifesto – after all, with a record number of people off sick and the NHS broken, how can we expect our economy to grow? And if we can’t grow our economy, how can we change Britain?

The sections on health struck a particular chord with me having served as lead member for public health for a Labour council, but more importantly, as an NHS patient. Living with a long-term health condition I have seen first-hand the deep crises our NHS is experiencing – and when I was growing up, I remember things being a lot better under the last Labour government.

READ MORE: Labour manifesto launch: Live updates, reaction and analysis

That is why today’s manifesto matters. Because it will give the next generation of young people the opportunities to live a healthy life. Good health is the cornerstone of a good life and that was the foundational principle behind Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan’s mission for creating a collective safety net for the nation’s health.

Health policy in this country needs fundamental rewiring

By cracking down on non-doms and tax avoidance, the next Labour government would cut NHS waiting lists, providing an extra 40,000 appointments a week, creating a new National Care Service and 700,000 more urgent dental appointments. 

While serving as lead member for public health, I was proud to have led on a new health inequalities strategy. It is a moral scandal that between two streets in our country there can be a gap in life expectancy of up to 27 years. It was so important that today’s manifesto acknowledged this with an explicit commitment to “tackle the social determinants of health”.

We know that these health inequalities are inextricably linked to the other forms of inequality that people experience. And we also know that the solution is a fundamental rewiring of how we run health policy in this country – from the siloed sickness service of the last 14 years to a holistic wellness service that transforms lives.

READ MORE: Full manifesto costs breakdown – and how tax and borrowing fund it

That is why it was great to see a commitment in the manifesto for new neighbourhood health centres as well as a ‘fit for the future’, fund to provide crucial technological improvements to catch cancer and major conditions earlier. 

Labour’s manifesto pledges are a truly transformative plan

Poor health growing up is a key determinant of worse life chances, making Labour’s child health action plan a vital social justice policy. This plan is brave and sensible – ensuring the healthiest generation of children in our nation’s history through measures on vaping, junk food and online safety. 

Across the country people are waiting far too long on waiting lists for mental health services. This is also an issue of regional inequality, with rates of depression far higher in more deprived areas. That is what makes Labour’s policy of recruiting an additional 8,500 new staff to treat children and adults so important. 

READ MORE: The key manifesto policy priorities in brief

These policies show that across elective care, health inequalities, children’s health and mental health, Labour’s plans are rooted in a genuine and transformative shift from cure to prevention.

While other parts of Labour’s health offer often get attention, the true overlooked radicalism in Labour’s policy lies here in focusing on prevention. Labour’s manifesto pledges are a truly transformative plan to improve our health and give hope to the next generation.


Find out more through our wider 2024 Labour party manifesto coverage so far:

READ MORE: Labour manifesto launch: Live updates, reaction and analysis

READ MORE: Full manifesto costs breakdown – and how tax and borrowing fund it

READ MORE: The key manifesto policy priorities in brief

READ MORE: Labour vows to protect green belt despite housebuilding drive

READ MORE: Watch as Starmer heckled by protestor inside with ‘youth deserve better’ banner

READ MORE: GMB calls manifesto ‘vision of hope’ but Unite says ‘not enough’

READ MORE: Manifesto commits to Brexit and being ‘confident’ outside EU

READ MORE: Labour to legislate on New Deal for Working People within 100 days – key policies breakdown 

READ MORE: Labour to give 16-year-olds right to vote

READ MORE: Starmer says ‘manifesto for wealth creation’ will kickstart growth

READ MORE: Dodds: ‘Our manifesto is a fully funded vision, while Tories offer a Christmas tree of gimmicks’

READ MORE: IFS: Labour manifesto doesn’t raise enough cash to fund ‘genuine change’

READ MORE: ‘Labour’s manifesto is one the party can promote with confidence’

READ MORE: ‘No manifesto surprises, but fear not: all parties do so much more in power’

Read more of our 2024 general election coverage here.

If you have anything to share that we should be looking into or publishing about this or any other topic involving Labour or about the election, on record or strictly anonymously, contact us at [email protected]

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