Queen's Speech 2021: Does government's health agenda go far enough?

It is perhaps no surprise the government put the health of the country at the centre of the Queen's Speech today.

We've been promised it will "protect the health of the nation" and as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic it is surely the right thing to promise.

There is though little detail on how the government plans to do it, apart from improve mental health support (including £500m to support those who've suffered during the pandemic) and tackle obesity.

On obesity, there will be a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm and none will be allowed online from next April, this will be great news for some but those same people might well be dismayed at why a proposal to list calories on drinks in pubs has been dropped (they will still have to do this for food, mind you).

Financial incentives will also be given to those who eat better and exercise more in a scheme called Fit Miles. If the government is serious about getting to grips with obesity I think many will question whether all this is enough?

Pubs will soon have to display how many calories are in each meal on the menu. Credit: PA

The Health and Care Bill, which has already been proposed, will integrate the NHS and social care systems.

This is something the government has been aiming for, for a long time, and many NHS Trusts are already integrating more closely with social care.

The problem is there was no sign of any legislation to reform adult social care, just a promise to bring forward proposals despite the Prime Minister's assertion he would come up with a clear plan to sort out the system in 2019.

Council leaders had called on the government to outline a proper funding plan for social care, it hasn't been included and any are pleading that it isn't kicked into the long grass once again.

'This is something that is an embarrassment to our country': Sir Andrew Dilnot, Warden of Nuffield College, says we, as a nation, should be disappointed in England's social care systems

The Royal College of Nursing points out it is a "missed opportunity..ignoring social care is the same as ignoring the NHS" - since the last year has shown their fates are completely intertwined. That they are intertwined and thus reform is needed urgently might well be the best line of attack for those who've been calling for changes to social care funding for decades.

Perhaps the most important element affecting the NHS is the promise to help it recover and catch up.

Visits to see loved ones in care homes like Summercourt in Teignmouth, have been extremely limited this year. Credit: ITV News

There are nearly five million people waiting for treatment at the moment and thousands of others sitting at home unaware they may be ill. There's a commitment to clear this backlog, with the help of a billion pounds and a pledge to try to get as many people to see their GP if they think they may be suffering from something serious, like cancer.

The pandemic has ripped through the NHS like a tsunami. Rebuilding it may take years and years, so this may all look and sound like not very much but it is just the beginning and there is no doubt more help will have to follow.