Thank you for contacting me about young people’s health.
I agree that young people’s health is a fundamental part of our future prosperity. It is vital to ensure our young people have the best start in life, and that means protecting their mental health as well as physical.
That is why I am glad that the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) builds on the work outlined in the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper, expanding funding for children’s mental health services faster than overall NHS funding and total mental health spending.
Progress has been made on infant mortality, with reductions of 18.8 per cent in still births and 5.8 per cent in neonatal mortality since 2010. The LTP’s commitment to a 50 per cent reduction in stillbirths, neonatal mortality, maternal mortality and serious brain injury by 2025 is a welcome step forward.
The second part of the Government’s plans on childhood obesity, published in 2018, introduces firm commitments to tackle this problem head-on. This strategy establishes a target to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Measures that have been put to consultation include mandatory calorie labelling and restrictions on the promotion of products that are high in fat, sugar and salt.
Health inequalities and poverty significantly affect children’s health. The LTP outlines a strategy to address inequalities through targeted funding. It also requires all local health systems to report on how they will reduce inequalities by 2023/24 and 2028/29. I welcome the fact that 300,000 fewer children are living in absolute poverty in the past decade.
I am encouraged by the Government’s action so far on combatting the biggest problems in children’s health. Going forward, I am optimistic that the LTP and obesity strategy will deliver a holistic approach to healthcare that emphasises early detection and prevention, while the Government’s £33.9 billion investment in the NHS - the largest cash boost in its history – will make these improvements possible.