05 Sep 2022

We’d like to congratulate Liz Truss on her successful election as leader of the Conservative Party and appointment as Prime Minister. We’re ready to work with Liz and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to ensure the profession, the NHS and the health of the nation are made a priority.

Dietetics and the NHS are at a crossroads and it is vital that our new Prime Minister seizes the opportunity to deliver the real change needed to rectify many of the issues facing the profession and the wider British public.

Here’s what we need:

1. Cost of Living – families need affordable access to good food

Many people are struggling to feed their families. A study by the Food Foundation indicated that more than one in five households have had to decide between heating their homes or eating. It is important that the Government works to ensure that everyone across the UK has access to healthy affordable food that meets their nutritional needs to live a full and healthy life.

These are not small challenges and the BDA is ready to work with the new Prime Minister and her Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to solve them. We’re already working with charities like Barnardo’s through our Let’s Get Cooking programme to help give people the confidence and skills they need to get hands-on in the kitchen and make healthier food choices throughout their lives. However, without Government intervention to ensure families have access to food this will not be enough.

2. Solving the NHS Challenges – Dietitians are part of the solution

The Health and Social Care Committee’s report, published in July showed us that almost every healthcare profession is facing shortages, and this includes dietetics. The outcome of this is a workforce that is overworked and exhausted, with two million full-time equivalent days in August 2021 lost due to sickness including anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses. Many are considering leaving professions that are their calling, which places further pressure on the already under resourced workforce.

This doesn’t just effect NHS professionals but also impacts the UK public as a whole. Without adequate staffing, the NHS cannot tackle the backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have longer waiting times and patients not receiving the care and attention that they need. The Committee was not wrong when it stated that the “NHS and the social care sector are facing the greatest workforce crisis in their history”.

Dietitians and the dietetic support workforce are an integral part of the solution to this backlog and the wider profession as a whole. From preventative care keeping people out of hospital, to treatment and recovery, Allied Health Professions help to relieve the pressures facing our NHS and deliver the best possible health outcomes for the public.

3. Workforce development – it’s not just about doctors and nurses

Within the workforce we’ve been calling on the Government to make the necessary changes to career pathways, staffing numbers, and embedding dietetics across Health and Social Care. While we welcome the previous administrations increase in the number of courses available to dietitians the work in this field has not gone far enough.

Our own survey into the dietetic workforce in 2020 showed that more staff and resources were needed to support dietitians in delivering their vital work. By giving more resources, training and responsibility to dietitians, such as independent prescribing rights, the new Prime Minister can ensure that the dietitians and the dietetic support workforce can deliver the services needed to keep the UK healthy.

We’re keen to work with the new Prime Minister and her Government on these issues and more, to ensure that we have a healthy profession, healthy NHS, and a healthy United Kingdom.