England falling behind other European countries in the race to improve children’s health

Posted on October 15, 2018

A report from the RCPCH has found that mortality rates are set to be 140 per cent higher for infants in England than in comparable wealthy nations by 2030.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has reported that England is falling behind other European countries in the race to improve children’s health.

A properly-funded health strategy which could transform the life chances of children and young people is needed urgently if England is to stem the predicted rises, says the country’s most senior paediatrician.

The ‘Child health in 2030 in England: comparisons with other wealthy countries’ report, published today by RCPCH, the professional body serving more than 18,000 paediatricians, compares England with European and other western countries known as the EU15+.

Using long-term historical data to project outcomes for children and young people’s health in 2030, it concludes that whilst England is middle of the pack for some outcomes, on the majority England is likely to fall further behind other wealthy countries over the next decade.

Infant mortality in England and Wales rose in 2015 and again in 2016, reversing the 100-year decline in one of the key indicators of population health. This report reveals that even if infant mortality begins to decline again at its previous rate, infant mortality rates could be 80 per cent higher than the average across the EU15+ in 2030. If mortality continues the current ‘stall’ then it will be 140 per cent higher in 2030.

Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, said: “These shocking findings highlight the desperate need for further action to reduce infant mortality rates, and we call on the Government to ensure this is a priority area for investment in the forthcoming NHS Long-Term Plan. This report shows that prematurity is the biggest contributing factor to our high infant mortality rates, and that much greater focus is needed both to prevent preterm births and also to improve neonatal care for babies born premature, to give all babies the best chances of survival and quality of life.”

Professor Russell Viner, report author and President of the RCPCH said: “Unless current trends improve, England is likely to fall further behind countries of similar wealth over the next decade making it harder to give children the best start in life, receive the care they need and remain healthy into productive, happy adult lives.”

Read the report in full here.