Government pledge to reduce child mortality

As UK child mortality rates rise to among the highest in Europe, a new pledge aims to turn young people into more active and valued participants in their care

A new national pledge to reduce child deaths in the UK has been announced by the government, prompted by reports that the all-cause mortality rate for children aged between 0 and 14 years has moved from the average to among the worst in Europe.

The pledge is part of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum, which was set up in January 2012 and aims to identify the health issues that matter most to young people.

The pledge, signed by parliamentary under secretary of state for health services Dr Dan Poulter in February this year, commits the government to putting children, young people and families at the heart of decision-making. New measures include increasing the availability of data for monitoring and information, piloting surveys to generate details of local conditions and drug and alcohol problems, and launching colour-coded health maps to identify health trends. The latter comes in response to the variation in care quality across the country.

The minister believes that the lives of around 1,600 children could be saved if “drastic improvements” were made. He said: “I am determined that children and young people should be put at the heart of the new health and social care system. Too often … children’s health has been an afterthought.”

Particularly at risk are children in care, those who are disabled, or who experience long-term trauma. The programme aims to help young people grow from passive recipients of care to active and valued participants.