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Press release

The King's Fund, independent health and care think tank, responds to the King's Speech

Commenting on today’s King’s Speech, Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, an independent health and care think tank, said:

‘We welcome the government’s bold commitment to introduce a phased smoking ban and moves to restrict selling e-cigarettes to children. If the ban is passed into law, this landmark health measure would be a significant step towards preventing poor health, saving lives and reducing inequalities. Passing the smoking ban legislation would be a major milestone, and government should then have the courage to implement the ban quickly. Disappointingly, we have recently seen other measures to protect people from ill health, such as banning junk food advertising to help tackle obesity, passed into law only for implementation to be delayed.

‘As shown in new figures published earlier today by the OECD,* the United Kingdom fares poorly compared to its peers across many health outcomes, including life expectancy. The government should implement its delayed obesity measures if it wants to help reduce burgeoning illness in the UK.

‘The notable absence of a new and reformed Mental Health Act in the King's Speech is deeply disappointing. Reforms, such as changes to the criteria for detaining patients under the Act, have been carefully considered over many years, and it is worrying to see them deprioritised. Not bringing forward these reforms risks widening health inequalities.

‘Any government that is serious about improving the health and wellbeing of the population, cutting waiting lists and making the NHS fit for the future will need to think longer term about improving access to out-of-hospital care, making health and social care a more attractive career, and tackling the biggest risk factors to people’s health.’

Notes to editors

*To read the Health at a Glance report please go to: OECD Health at a Glance 2023

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585.

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.

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