24th October 2013
Much more needs to be done to improve UK children’s health, and acting early will save taxpayers’ money, the Chief Medical Officer has said in a frank assessment of the state of the health of the nation’s children. CMO’s latest report. – which has the backing of several children’s charities – calls on government, the whole health service, social care and education professionals to take action and make improvements now.
It highlights a strong economic case for doing more, sooner. For example, reducing obesity by just one percentage point among children and young people could lead to savings of £1 billion each year as children would be less likely to end up with long-term health problems needing NHS treatment.
In addition to improvements on physical health, the report highlights the need for society to support children to build emotional resilience, supporting children through better communication to learn from their mistakes and deal with life’s inevitable ‘ups and downs’.
Specific recommendations for change in the Chief Medical Officer’s report include:
- A named GP should be available for every child with long term conditions;
- A review of the cost-effectiveness of extending the Healthy Start Vitamin Programme to every child: NICE should be asked to examine the cost-effectiveness of offering the Healthy Start vitamins to every child. Healthy Start vitamins contain vital ingredients for children’s development, including vitamins A, C, D – all critical for growth, vision, healthy skin and strong bones;
- A new national children’s week to help change our national culture to celebrate children and young people and help bring together the myriad of organisations with the power to make a difference – including government, charities and the NHS;
- Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission should routinely ask for evidence on how well children’s and health services work together as part of the inspection process, to drive real joining-up of services across the system; and
- A regular survey on mental health among children and young people, including comparisons with other developed countries, should be commissioned and published annually, to improve the evidence base for meeting young people’s mental health needs.
The report paints a stark picture of the experience children have growing up in our society, as well as the dramatic difference between the experiences of poor children and better-off children.
Access the full report.