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.

 

 

 

Annual update of data in the child health profiles interactive tool.  Profiles providing an overview of child health and wellbeing for each local authority in England.

The profiles draw together information to present a picture of child health and wellbeing in each local area in a user-friendly format.

Those working in local government and health services can use the profiles as a tool to help:

  • understand the needs of their communities
  • improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people
  • reduce health inequalities

 

Child health is suffering at the hands of a disjointed approach from central Government is the warning from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) as it publishes its “State of Child Health: One year on” scorecard today.

The scorecards for England, Scotland and Wales describe progress against the series of recommendations made a year ago in the RCPCH’s landmark State of Child Health report.

The England scorecard reveals progress in some areas including the launch of a Digital Child Health Strategy, the publication of a new Tobacco Control Plan, the initiation of some specialist service reviews in paediatrics and the implementation of the sugar tax. However, there has been no improvement in several fundamental areas, including:

  • No plans for an overarching child health strategy
  • No junk food advertising ban
  • No way of measuring UK breastfeeding prevalence
  • No increased investment in child health research

The greatest areas for concern are the deepening public health cuts which have worsened in the last year and are disproportionately affecting children’s services.  The scorecard marks this ‘black’, quoting latest statistics that show public health spending is over 5% lower in 2017/18 compared with 2013/14.

Professor Neena Modi, President of the RCPCH, said:

The science exists for all to see; invest in the health of children and make a huge difference to their health in later life and hence to their economic productivity. For example, four-fifths of obese children will remain obese as adults and this will result in them losing between 10-20 years of healthy life. That’s a very frightening statistic and something that Government must get to grips with. It’s no wonder the NHS is burgeoning under the weight of ill health. This is time for a long vision for the sake of the nation’s wellbeing and prosperity yet the focus remains short-term and ineffective.”

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE Executive Director of the iHV said:

“Sadly the scorecard results are not a surprise, the Institute is repeatedly warning that cutting public health budgets is a false economy and will impact, not only on children now, but also on future generations and the fiscal spend.  In particular the reduction in health visiting numbers we are seeing following such a very short lived, but exciting growth up until 2015, means that according to our own survey many children are not being seen by a health visitor at all after the 6-8 week contact.  There is a research base clearly demonstrating why prevention matters and its very encouraging to see other countries responding to this by investing in child and family health.  The Institute hopes that England’s ministers respond to the report by reinvesting into public health and particularly the early years and poverty reduction.”

The scorecards reveal that the Scottish and Welsh Governments are making greater strides in enacting policies to improve child health. For example, in Scotland there has been:

  • The passing of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act with defined poverty reduction targets
  • A new Mental Health Strategy including a commitment to improve transition to adult services
  • An announcement of plans to expand the number of health visitors by an additional 500 by the end of 2018 through the full roll-out of the Family Nurse Partnership programme
  • A commitment from Scottish Government to ensure specialist breastfeeding advice and support is delivered to women

And in Wales:

  • The Public Health (Wales) Act has been enacted which includes extending bans on smoking in public places to school grounds, playgrounds and NHS grounds.
  • A new state of the art facility in Cardiff has opened to expand capacity for child health research

Professor Russell Viner, RCPCH Officer for Health Promotion, said:

“Child health isn’t being given the political attention it deserves in Westminster, which is disappointing given the real commitments from the Scottish and Welsh Governments. While policies such as the soft drinks industry levy and new tobacco control plan are to be applauded, the approach is piecemeal.

“Getting it right in childhood means setting up future generation for a lifetime of better health. Investing in children is an investment in the entire population.”

The RCPCH is calling for each national government to commit to a ‘child health in all policies’ approach, meaning that whenever legislation is passed, the impact on child health must be considered. The RCPCH also wants to see a cross-party committee established to develop a child health strategy.

Professor Modi added:

“We need parity of esteem between acute and preventive healthcare. It is no good only throwing money at treating established problems; there must be far better investment in prevention, which will reap immeasurable long term benefits. This means much bolder public health policies and a reversal of the current destructive cuts to preventive services.”

View the full report and summary here.

British Medical Journal (BMJ) will be launching a new journal, BMJ Paediatrics Open, which will be dedicated to publishing original research, clinical reviews, and protocols that deal with every aspect of child health. It particularly welcomes research in the neglected diseases that disproportionately affect children in low and middle income countries.

BMJ Paediatrics Open is an open access journal and is an official journal of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). The provision of child health is multidisciplinary and international.

The journal welcomes papers from all health care professions from anywhere in the world. Papers dealing with paediatric specialties, paediatric surgery, public health, or healthcare provision will all be accepted.

 

 

 

The iHV welcomes and supports the call from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Children Poverty Action Group (CPAG) on the next UK Government to take urgent action on poverty to ensure a healthier future for the UK’s infants, children and young people.

Poverty and low income is seriously affecting the health of UK children according to paediatricians – and any new Government must tackle health inequalities or risk storing up health problems for future generations. That’s according to a new report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) launched today.

The report “Poverty and child health: views from the frontline” is based on a survey of more than 250 paediatricians across the country, whose comments provide an insight into the grave reality of life for the millions of UK children living in poverty.

Latest figures show that 30% (4 million) children in the UK live in poverty – with projections suggesting this could rise to 5 million by the end of the decade.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director, iHV, commented:

“The iHV welcomes and supports the call from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Children Poverty Action Group (CPAG) on the next UK Government to take urgent action on poverty to ensure a healthier future for the UK’s infants, children and young people.

We particularly welcome the call to reverse public health cuts to ensure universal early years services, including health visiting and school nursing, are prioritised and supported financially, with additional targeted help for children and families experiencing poverty.  The recent reduction in health visitor numbers impacts the vital support that babies, young children and families need at such a critical time in their lives – we want to ensure that every child has the best start in life.”

The report looks at a number of areas including food insecurity, poor housing and worry, stress and stigma – and their effect on the health of children.  It reveals that:

  • More than two-thirds of paediatricians surveyed said poverty and low income contribute ‘very much’ to the ill health of children they work with
  • Housing problems or homelessness were a concern for two thirds of respondents.
  • More than 60% said food insecurity contributed to the ill health amongst children they treat 3
  • 40% had difficulty discharging a child in the last 6 months because of concerns about housing or food insecurity
  • More than 50% of respondents said that financial stress and worry contribute ‘very much’ to the ill health of children they work with

The RCPCH and CPAG are calling on whoever forms the next Government to tackle poverty urgently through:

  • The restoration of binding national targets to reduce child poverty, backed by a national child poverty strategy.
  • The adoption of a ‘child health in all policies’ approach to decision making and policy development, with Her Majesty’s Treasury disclosing information about the impact of the Chancellor’s annual budget statement on child poverty and inequality.
  • The reversal of public health cuts to ensure universal early years services, including health visiting and school nursing, are prioritised and supported financially, with additional targeted help for children and families experiencing poverty.
  • The reversal of cuts to universal credit which will leave the majority of families claiming this benefit worse off.

Download full report (PDF, 1.1 MB) or read summary here.

The 2017 Child Health Profiles, produced by Public Health England (PHE), were released on Tuesday 7 March 2017.

The profiles draw together information to present a picture of the health of children and young people in each local area in a user-friendly format. They provide a snapshot of child .health and wellbeing for each local authority in England using key health indicators which enable comparison locally, regionally and nationally. They are a valuable tool for local government and health services in helping them to understand the needs of their community, so that they can work to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people and reduce health inequalities.

There is a four-page profile for each local authority in England which includes:

  • An ‘At a glance’ summary description of child health in the area which highlights key findings
  • Maps and charts showing how the health of the area compares to the national view and other local authorities in England
  • A ‘spine chart’ health summary showing the difference in health between the area and the England average for 32 indicators within the five domains of the Public Health Outcomes Framework.

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) welcomes the findings of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) landmark report into the State of Child Health which calls for Government to introduce a comprehensive, national, child health and wellbeing strategy, reverse cuts to public health, and tighten controls over smoking, the sale of alcohol and advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

According to the report, a lack of strategic national focus and persistence of a wide gap between rich and poor in the UK is damaging the health of the nation’s infants, children and young people. Compiled by child health experts, with input from children and young people themselves, the report provides clear recommendations to improve child health.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director of the iHV, said:

“The Institute of Health Visiting welcomes the findings of the report and fully supports all its recommendations.  The snapshot of children’s health in the UK captured in this State of Child Health report is very worrying and upsetting.  As a nation, we can’t afford to not invest in our children as they are our future, yet recently their needs seem to have become invisible against the many competing demands being made on government and the NHS. We know so much today with respect to what can influence children’s outcomes across their life course, and in turn benefit the whole country. It’s time to act, to help ensure the best health outcomes for all UK children today, and in the future, by giving them the best start in life.  As an absolute priority and first step, the cuts to public health budgets must be stopped.”

The State of Child Health report brings together data for the first time on a comprehensive list of 25 measures of the health of UK children, ranging from specific conditions such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, risk factors for poor health such as obesity and a low rate of breastfeeding, to child deaths. The data provide an “across the board” snapshot of child health and wellbeing in the UK.

Nearly one in five children in the UK is living in poverty and inequality is blighting their lives, with those from the most deprived backgrounds experiencing much worse health compared with the most affluent. Despite some improvements in the health of UK children over the last decades, there is clear disparity with Europe and other developed countries, and major cause for concern.

Dr Adams added:

“We at the iHV will be working with the RCPCH to support their campaign to ensure child health becomes a key political priority, as only then will the prime minister’s aspirations for reducing inequalities become a reality.”

State of Child Health report:

Available on Thursday 26 January – www.rcpch.ac.uk/state-of-child-health

 

We are delighted to share the announcement of the launch of the Child Health Alliance, which brings together key system leaders from children’s health, parents, young people and the voluntary and community sector – and includes iHV executive director, Dr Cheryll Adams CBE.

Child Health Alliance

Child Health Alliance

The Alliance is made possible through funding from the Department of Health and the support of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and is co-chaired by Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council For Disabled Children and Professor Ian Lewis. The Alliance will look at the current state of health services for children and young people in England, develop priorities, and identify key opportunities for improving children and young people’s health and wellbeing outcomes in England.

Whilst the UK has seen vast improvements to child and adolescent health over the last 30 years, a number of alarming statistics show that, comparatively, the UK is performing poorly on several measures of child health and wellbeing compared with other European countries.

Since the final report of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum, there has been an ongoing process of transformation in the health and social care system. There is a pressing concern amongst the child health community that the key messages from the forum have not been taken into account throughout this process, and the voice of children and young people have not been listened to.

We will keep you updated on the work of the Alliance and hope you will support us in our task of ensuring that child health is a priority for government and health system leaders going forward.

iHV is a signatory to a letter, lead by the Royal College for Paediatric and Child Health (RCPCH), which was sent to the Health Service Journal (HSJ) in response to an article written last week about how public health cuts are damaging to child health.

The HSJ investigation revealed that services aimed at children and young people are bearing the brunt of cuts to public health spending by local authorities.

Overall, their analysis identified planned spending reductions worth £50.5m in 2016-17, across 77 local authorities which provided information. Of the £50.5m cuts in 2016-17, the biggest single area was a £7m reduction to services directly aimed at improving the health of children and young people, such as health visiting, school nursing and childhood obesity programmes. These represented 14% of the total.

The letter signed by 12 leading specialists, warned that any spending cuts imposed by local authorities could have a “significant impact on the future health of children”. Scaling back spending on health visitors, child obesity programmes and school nurses will have a detrimental effect on the future health of children and young people in the UK it said.

A copy of an article in relation to this can be found on the HSJ and you can see a copy of the letter in full on the RCPCH’s website.

The letter is also shared below:

Dear Sir,

At a time where child wellbeing in the UK ranks a poor 16th out of 29 income rich countries, putting us below Slovenia and the Czech Republic, children are becoming overweight or obese earlier and breastfeeding rates are deemed the worst in the world, it is highly concerning to learn that of the £50.5m spending reductions planned for 2016-17 by local authorities, the biggest single area affected was services directly aimed at improving the health of children and young people (‘Children’s services hardest hit by public health cuts,’ 4 July 2016). Cuts are also affecting services for pregnant women such as smoking cessation and this could have a significant impact on the future health of children.

If we are to improve outcomes for children and young people in the UK, then it is vital that services provided by local authorities such as health visiting, school nurses and weight management programmes are protected. Without them, obesity rates will rise and the associated health costs will spiral, breastfeeding rates will fail to get better and thousands of babies each year will miss out on the many benefits it provides. In addition, obesity prevention, school nurses and health visitors are all important in the prevention and early detection of mental health problems, so these services are vital for maintaining both the physical and mental health of our children. We call on Government to invest in child health now because by doing so, it will protect the future health of the nation.

Professor Russell Viner, Officer for Health Promotion, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)
Shirley Cramer, CEO, The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH)
Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health
Sarah Carpenter, head of Health, Community Practitioners’ & Health Visitors’ Association
Sarah Carpenter, head of Health, Unite
Dr Ingrid Wolfe, Chair, British Association for Child & Adolescent Public Health
Janet Davies, Chief Executive & General Secretary at the Royal College of Nursing
Dr David Richmond, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)
Dr Cheryll Adams, CBE, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting
Cathy Warwick, CEO, Royal College of Midwives
Jane Barlow, President, Association of Infant Mental Health
Stephen Dalton, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation
Bernadka Dubicka, Vice-chair, faculty of child and adolescent psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrist, Honorary reader, University of Manchester; Consultant psychiatrist, Lancashire Care Foundation Trust
Prof Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy