Press release

Government pledge to reduce child mortality

A new national pledge to reduce child deaths was announced by the Government today.

The new pledge - part of the Government’s response to the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum - is about making drastic improvements to the health of children and young people.

The Government is asking organisations who have the power to make a difference - including the NHS, Royal Colleges and local Government - to sign up to the pledge and do everything they can to reduce avoidable deaths.

As well as the new pledge the Government has also announced the beginning of a series of actions to improve children’s health. These include:

  • Starting a data revolution so the NHS and local authorities get better information they can use to improve the health of young people;
  • Making sure children and young people are at the heart of the new health and care system and that their voices are heard; and
  • The Chief Medical Officer will lead a new Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Board, who will make sure the issue stays top of the agenda by bringing health leaders together to improve children’s health.

Better data will make it easier for doctors, nurses and local authorities to get all the information they need to help children. A new survey that will generate data on local health problems - like drug and alcohol use - as well as information on bullying will be piloted. New colour coded health maps also mean doctors and nurses will be able to look at local health trends for conditions like asthma and diabetes.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

“For too long, Britain’s childhood mortality rates have been amongst the worst in Europe when compared to similar countries. In particular, there is unacceptable variation across the country in the quality of care for children - for example in the treatment of long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

“I am determined that children and young people should be put at the heart of the new health and social care system. Too often in the past children’s health has been an afterthought.

“The pledge that we are making today demonstrates how all parts of the system will play their part and work together to improve children’s health. There is already a lot of good work going on but we want the NHS to do even more to improve care for children and young people and reduce the mortality rate.”

The pledge commits signatories to put children, young people and families right at the heart of decision making and improve every aspect of health services - from pregnancy through to adolescence and beyond.

Things we expect them to do as a result might include the local NHS reviewing health services to see how they interact with young people, or investigating why they might have lower survival rates for children with certain conditions - like cancer - and taking action to make improvements. That could include increasing numbers of specialist staff or making sure GPs are better trained in children’s health to help them make an earlier diagnosis.

The Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum was set up by the Government  in January 2012 to identify the health issues that matter most to young people.

Their work took into account the views of 2,000 people including children, young people, families and healthcare professionals. They highlighted the pressing need for big changes to be made, as well as the significant opportunities that exist in the new health system to make improvements.

The pledge and response to the forum are just the start of a huge range of actions the Government and others will take to improve the health of children and young people in the coming months.

Notes to editors

For more information please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5703.

The full response is available  on the Department of Health website.

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