Ministers told to act on children ‘dying unnecessarily’

A doctors' organisation urges the Scottish Government to act on child deaths (David Jones/PA)
A doctors' organisation urges the Scottish Government to act on child deaths (David Jones/PA)

A doctors’ organisation has called on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to review “preventable” child deaths.

Putting in place a “robust, consistent” system to review child deaths was one of a series of recommendations the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health (RCPCH) made a year ago in a report on the state of child health in Scotland.

The college has now published a new scorecard marking progress 12 months on and has called for “urgent implementation” of the review system to save lives.

Dr Steve Turner, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s Officer for Scotland, said: “One commitment in particular – the creation of a system to ensure child deaths are properly reviewed, requires urgent implementation.

“Around 450 infants, children and young people die in Scotland each year and many of these deaths are preventable.

“This system will determine why some of these children are dying unnecessarily and will allow measures to be put in place in order to prevent future fatalities.”

He praised Scottish Government policies committing to action on obesity and breastfeeding rates, pregnancy health and child poverty but said more work needs to be done.

The report highlights progress in these areas, and the Scottish Government outperforms the UK, but notes there has been no action on mandatory child health training for GPs or providing every young person with a long-term condition with a named health professional.

Dr Turner said: “Currently Scotland has amongst the worst outcomes for child health in Europe, and it’s clear much more needs to be done, specifically around ensuring the health system meets children and young people’s needs.

“Considering only a year has passed since the launch of our State of Child Health report, it is encouraging that so many commitments to child health have been made. The key now is to make sure these commitments are delivered effectively.”

Green health spokeswoman Alison Johnstone made a fresh call for a £5 top up to child benefit, adding: “There is much more we can do to make sure that our health services tackle inequalities and that our social security system gives families the support they need.”

Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell said: “I welcome the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recognition on progress made and that Scotland is leading in UK on child health.

“Our concerted effort to give every child the best start in life has seen every child born in Scotland receive a baby box of essential items. We are also recruiting 500 more health visitors, and doubling childcare entitlement for three-and-four year olds and vulnerable two-year-olds, thereby helping more parents, particularly mothers, into work.

“We’re committed to ensuring all healthcare professionals receive high quality training and education on the care of children. We will continue to work closely with College so we ensure Scotlandis best place for a child to grow up.”

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