Nigel Farage MEP, Leader of UKIP
cc Louise Bours MEP, Health Spokesman for UKIP
Dear Mr Farage
I am writing to you on behalf of our healthy heart charity. We do not wish to take a party political view and are therefore writing to all party leaders to ask about your respective party’s commitment to improving public health approaches to preventing serious disorders of the heart and circulation: these cause ~half of adult deaths in the UK.
We are writing now, having considered how your manifesto addresses this issue, and in the light of the fresh report from the Economist Intelligence Unit on the low UK ranking for standardized health spend and doctors per 1000 population compared with many benchmark international economies (https://data.oecd.org).
Despite efforts of recent administrations, the UK faces an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other serious disorders linked to preventable risk of heart and circulatory disease. Urgent, effective, preventive action is needed, with expected benefits for personal and national health and wealth, coupled to eased pressures on the NHS.
Our concerns from reading your Manifesto are:
1. Your interest in mental health is welcome however you do not mention any UKIP policy on general public health. It is vital in particular to have strategy for preventing disease of the heart and circulation – the cause of half the adults in the UK. Despite efforts of current and previous administrations, the UK faces an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other serious disorders linked to preventable risk of heart and circulatory disease.
2. You pledge to oppose minimum pricing of alcohol. Alcohol is an important preventable contributor to obesity, high blood pressure, and heart and other serious diseases.
3. You pledge to reverse plain packaging legislation for tobacco products. Smoking is a serious preventable risk factor for raised cholesterol and heart disease – directly through damage to the lungs and indirectly through damage to the lungs. It is vital both for the health of our children and the adult population. It is not just about individual choice. Seeing others smoke encourages smoking by the young, and passive smoking is a major cause of ill health in others. Gains from effective public health measures can be very rapid: for example the 20% reduction in heart attacks within a year a ban on smoking in public places.
4. We welcome your pledge to provide “healthy snacks” for school children however UKIP makes no pledge on healthy diet or other aspects of healthy lifestyle for adults.
Gains from effective public health measures can be very rapid and often well within the lifetime of a particular administration, for example the 20% reduction in heart attack rates within one year of introducing a compulsory ban on smoking in public places.
We therefore ask what actions your party proposes in support of a national, effective public health approach to prevent heart disease through better public awareness within both children and adults of what causes heart disease, why to bother to change behavior, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease, and how to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
These efforts will help both to prevent serious heart and circulatory conditions, as well as other serious disorders, including cancer, joint disease, and common forms of dementia.
Cardiovascular Research Trust