RCPCH responds to latest child mortality data

Responding to the latest ONS avoidable mortality data for children and young people, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“With over a third (34%) of deaths classed as avoidable in 2017 and little improvement shown since 2014, these latest statistics paint a worrying picture.”

“Inside the womb, there are a number of factors that increase a child’s risk of death and these include exposure to smoke, alcohol and other harmful substances, a mother’s weight and mental health status. Outside the womb, these all still have an impact but exposure to areas high in road traffic also heighten this risk.”

“The Government has made some progress in relation to reducing these risks with the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan and commitments to strengthen tobacco controls and the establishment of a National Child Mortality Database, allowing lessons to be learnt and avoidable deaths prevented. However, more needs to be done in relation to reducing child poverty – a factor which underpins many of these issues – and investing in health visitors and reversing cuts to public health budgets is an important place to start.”

“With the highest avoidable mortality rates in the UK, the Scottish Government in particular, has an important job to do. Scottish Government is certainly moving in the right direction following the announcement of a series of commitments aimed at tackling child poverty and obesity. However, despite recommending a Scotland-wide child death review process to be implemented over four years ago,  this is yet to actually be established. Scottish Government must move forward with this promise to help reverse this worrying trend.”