A Labour government would take ‘tough action’ against the junk food and vaping industries to better protect the health of children, the shadow health secretary has promised.

During his keynote address at this year’s Labour Party conference, Wes Streeting said the ‘fundamental problem’ with the NHS was that it ‘gets to people too late’, as he pledged to shift towards a more preventative, community-based model of healthcare.

This comes after he said yesterday at the conference that he wants to see a greater role for community pharmacy.

‘Tough action’ on vaping and junk food

Mr Streeting told conference delegates that he wanted children born today to be part of the ‘healthiest generation that ever lived’.

And he promised that a Labour government would take ‘tough action against those who are cutting our children's lives short’.

This included proposals to ban junk food advertising targeted at children and crack down on flavoured vapes marketed to children.

‘To those in the vaping industry who have sought to addict a generation of children to nicotine with flavours like rainbow burst candy, you have been warned. A Labour government will come down on you like a ton of bricks,’ he said.

And he promised that Labour would vote through Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s proposals to raise the smoking age year on year, an idea previously proposed by a government review and promoted by Mr Streeting in January this year.

‘Neighbourhood health service’

The shadow health secretary also promised a reform of the NHS to a more preventative, community-based model.

‘When I look at leading health systems across the world, the fundamental problem with the NHS becomes obvious. We have an NHS that gets to people too late,’ he said.

‘A hospital-based system geared towards late diagnosis and treatment, delivering poorer outcomes at greater cost.’

And he warned that ‘the challenge of rising chronic disease, combined with our ageing society, threatens to bankrupt the NHS’.

He said that Labour’s reforms would ‘turn the NHS on its head’, from ‘hospital to community, analogue to digital, sickness to prevention’.

The NHS would become ‘a neighbourhood health service as much as a National Health Service’ that prevented ill health as well as treating it, added Mr Streeting.

This follows Mr Streeting’s calls yesterday for the government to act now to support the community pharmacy sector, saying that he wanted to see a ‘greater role’ for community pharmacy in delivering more patient care.

And it comes after Labour leader Keir Starmer yesterday promised funding for evening and weekend work to cut hospital waiting lists.