The BDA welcomes the new government and urges nutrition-focused NHS reform

08 Jul 2024

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) welcomes the newly elected government and congratulates the Labour Party on its historic victory.

The new Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, has revealed his ambitious NHS reform plans: “This government will be honest about the challenges facing our country, and serious about tackling them. From today, the policy of this department is that the NHS is broken. That is the experience of patients who are not receiving the care they deserve, and of staff working in the NHS who can see that, despite giving their best, this is not good enough.”

Streeting has repeatedly pledged to push through wide-ranging reforms to how the NHS works rather than just pouring more money into the system. His plan includes making maximum use of spare capacity in the private sector to clear the backlog, which affects 6.33 million patients in England.

Annette Mansell-Green, BDA Director for Trade Union & Public Affairs says, "We are eager to work collaboratively with the new UK government, in conjunction with the devolved governments to realise their vision for the NHS. Our members are ready to contribute their expertise to support Labour's mission of building an NHS fit for the future."

The BDA emphasises the critical role of nutrition in this reform, warning that without integrating dietetic expertise, the government risks missing a vital opportunity to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs. The BDA pledges its full support and expertise to help shape a healthier future for the UK.

Mansell-Green continues, "The new government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionise our approach to health. By working together and placing dietitians at the forefront of preventative care and treatment, we can tackle the root causes of many chronic diseases, potentially saving billions in healthcare costs and improving millions of lives."

The BDA, representing over 11,500 dietetic and nutrition professionals, looks forward to engaging with the government on five key priorities that align with their health agenda:

  1. Expanding Labour's free breakfast club initiative to provide universal free school meals for all primary school children, ensuring proper nutrition for the nation's youth.
  2. Developing a comprehensive UK Food Strategy to improve access to nutritious food, promote environmental sustainability, and address food insecurity.
  3. Granting independent prescribing rights to dietitians nationwide, reducing pressure on GPs and providing more efficient, specialised care.
  4. Bolstering the dietetic workforce in the NHS to support Labour's plan for expanded healthcare capacity and improved patient outcomes.
  5. Securing fair pay for NHS dietitians as part of Labour's commitment to valuing public service workers.

Vicki Bennett, Chair of the BDA Trade Union National Executive Committee, emphasises the association's readiness to engage in constructive dialogue.

Bennett says, "We're particularly eager to discuss the government's plans for NHS staff pay and conditions and it is refreshing that Wes Streeting, two days into his new role as Health Secretary, has entered into talks with the British Medical Association in finding a resolution to the junior doctors industrial action, which appears to be a sign of intent. In that spirit, recognising and rewarding our dedicated dietitians is crucial for retention and delivering the high-quality care that patients deserve, and that Labour has promised to deliver."

The BDA's offer of collaboration comes at a critical juncture, as the UK faces rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. By working together to integrate dietetic expertise into NHS reforms, the government and the BDA have the potential to set a new global standard for preventative healthcare and nutrition-focused treatment.

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