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Child health in England falling behind other European countries

15th October 2018

A new report, published today by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) ,warns that child health in England is lagging behind other European countries, with child mortality potentially 140% higher than other comparable nations by 2030 and reported mental health problems set to increase by 60%.

The ‘Child health in 2030 in England: comparisons with other wealthy countries’ report compares England with European and other western countries known as the EU15+. With the combination of England’s current poor standing for key outcomes in line with the averages in the EU15+, and our slower rates of improvement for key outcomes, the report finds that child health outcomes in England will not only compare very poorly to similar countries in 2030, but that we will be falling even further behind. The marked health inequalities between the most and least deprived children in most key outcomes are also set to widen over the next decade – presenting real challenges for health services in ensuring and improving access to those who need them most.

 

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director at the Institute of Health Visiting said:

“It feels very timely for the RCPCH to produce this report – ‘State of Child Health 2030’ to alert MPs and policy makers to the risks of not taking action now to strengthen all services for children.  Health visitors are already very concerned by the impact of current issues for children such as increasing childhood poverty, mental illness and obesity set against a decommissioning of essential services such as health visiting and school nursing due to recent reductions in public health budgets.

“These challenges faced by children and families are not just worrying for their impact on the life course of those affected.  We also now have good evidence that they will also be having significant impacts on the economy now and in the future.  We recommend ministers heed the advice of Nobel prize winner James Heckman and invest into the very early years to reduce later fiscal expenditure. We believe that the benefits to the economy would quickly be felt by government.”

Amongst the report’s key findings are:

  • Mortality rates may be 140% higher for infants in England than in comparable wealthy nations by 2030
  • Reported mental health problems are set to increase by 60%, based on current trends
  • 1 in 3 of the most deprived boys in England will be obese by 2030 without urgent implementation of the Childhood Obesity Plan and additional measures
  • A&E attendances for children may increase by 50% and outpatient attendances by 48%

In response, RCPCH is urging NHS England to develop and implement a Children and Young People’s Health Strategy as part of its long-term plan. They believe that a holistic CYP Health Strategy is essential to drive forward the ambitious actions, coordination and leadership needed to address the complex factors underpinning their findings. The long-term plan offers a critical opportunity to put children and young people at the heart of our health service, at every level, and the report demonstrates the risks of not taking action as soon as possible.