A “minister for wellbeing” should take a seat at the Cabinet table to ensure the Government’s policies are in keeping with people’s health needs, according to the Liberal Democrats.
The party’s health spokeswoman Munira Wilson made the call in a speech to the Lib Dems’ annual conference on Saturday, being held virtually because of the pandemic.
She said coronavirus had “exposed in technicolour the health inequalities facing the UK and shown us why we need to rethink the way we see healthcare as a whole”.
Ms Wilson highlighted the impact of poor and overcrowded housing, insecure employment and problems with the welfare system as issues impacting physical and mental health.
She said Boris Johnson needed to “put public health at the top of his agenda in the long-term”.
“That starts with making someone at the Cabinet table responsible: a minister for wellbeing who will scrutinise the Government’s actions and ensure they are fundamentally in keeping with health and wellbeing.
“As well as this, in the same way that equality impact assessments pushed equality up the agenda, we need to introduce wellbeing assessments to make sure new laws empower people to live healthier lives.
“Underpinning it all – as ever – we need a well-funded, well-resourced, resilient healthcare system, to support our physical and mental health in “normal” times, and in times of crisis.
“We still don’t know what the future holds when it comes to Covid-19, but, after the chaos and heartache we have endured this year, we should not have to fight to put health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda. It’s what people expect.”