13 November 2023

RCP briefing on the King's Speech debate ‘Building an NHS fit for the future’

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MPs will today (13 November 2023) debate the proposals set out in the King’s Speech on 7 November 2023 on the NHS. The RCP has issued a briefing to MPs in advance of this debate.

This briefing welcomes the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to create a smoke free generation. It also raises the importance of taking action on retention in the NHS workforce, reducing health inequalities and tackling climate change given its health impacts. 

Workforce is central to ensuring the NHS can deliver care now and in future. With waiting lists in England at a record 7.8 million, acting on retention must also be a priority to retain hardworking NHS staff.

Reducing avoidable ill health is key to reducing demand on the NHS and ensuring it is fit for the future. That is why the RCP and the over 250 member organisations of the Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA) are calling for a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities. Government must take action to tackle climate change and sustainability must also be effectively prioritised in the NHS. Many of the things we need to do to tackle climate change will also have major benefits for improving population health.

The briefing outlines:

  • Recruitment is central to ensure NHS staffing levels keep pace with demand – these efforts must be complemented by action to reduce attrition to ensure we retain the skilled staff we already have.
  • Reducing health inequalities, and avoidable illness, is key to reducing NHS demand and improving the nation’s health and productivity. The Major Conditions Strategy should include a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities. 
  • We welcome the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to create a smoke free generation.
  • Given the public health impacts of climate change, prioritising a just transition from fossil fuels and ensuring a robust and credible plan to reach net zero by 2050 at the latest is vital for population health.