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Welcome to ourNews, where we keep up-to-date with research and other news related to infant mental health. These articles can be of interest to both parents and professionals.
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Children’s health in the UK

Children's health in the UK has continued to improve, but this improvement has lagged behind that in other western countries.

In an annual update, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has issued scorecards for each home nation, tracking progress against recommendations made in their 2017 State of Child Health report.

While these updates contain some praise, there are serious concerns about areas where progress lags behind in each of the four nations that make up the UK. Child health inequalities remain high, with health outcomes in deprived groups in the UK being amongst the worst in the developed world.

Each home nation’s scorecard details progress, or lack of it, in twelve areas of concern.

England

The report welcomes the emphasis upon children and young people contained in the Long Term Plan for the NHS. There is also an increased commitment in England to address childhood mental health needs and to tackle obesity. For example, by 2020 every school child should receive mental health education and there is a target to reduce childhood obesity by 50% by 2030.

However, the report notes that serious concerns remain in England about child poverty and inequality, low breastfeeding rates and rates of infant mortality. These concerns need to be seen in light of cuts to the funding of public health services, including universal early years services. While a priority is being given to improving children's health, meeting these targets will require significant investment.

Download the report

Northern Ireland

The report notes the stalled political situation in Northern Ireland and that little policy development or implementation has been possible in the absence of an Assembly or Executive. Meanwhile, children and young people's mental health 'remains at crisis point' and a quarter of children are overweight or obese.

It is true that limited progress has been possible in some areas of childhood health. Examples include a campaign on safer-sleeping, to reduce sudden infant death, and guidance on smoking cessation during pregnancy. There are also moves to increase rates of breastfeeding and 20mph zones are being introduced in residential areas to create safer space for children. However, the Royal College describes this progress as 'minimal' and raises serious concerns about child health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland.

Download the report

Scotland

The report praises the Scottish Government's commitment to halve childhood obesity and to reduce child poverty to less than 10%, both by 2030. There are also plans to increase funding for breastfeeding activities and for the children's mental health workforce.

The challenge in Scotland now is to put these plans into action. This investment is urgently needed, as the gap in Scottish health outcomes continues to increase between the richest and poorest communities.

Download the report

Wales

The report describes progress in areas such as plans to tackle obesity, to increase breastfeeding rates, and to decrease the impact of alcohol and tobacco consumption. It is also welcome that the Welsh Government's plan for health and social care, A Healthier Wales, identifies “pre-birth and the first 1000 days as the most critical time to influence healthy outcomes”.

As elsewhere, the urgent challenge now is to deliver on planned changes.

Download the report

State of Child Health &Us

In 2018 the RCPCH &Us Network brought together 1,004 children, young people and parents, along with 1,077 early years workers, to share their voices on a range of health priorities. These priorities include hidden illnesses such as epilepsy and asthma, LGBT+ health needs, youth friendly services, children's rights, energy drinks and young people's screen times. The discussion of each topic brings valuable insights from children themselves.

The report includes several examples of good practice and sources of further information and advice.

Download the report

These are timely reports from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health that identify welcome progress in some areas. However, each nation's report notes serious concerns, especially related to child poverty and inequalities. These concerns will only deepen if the UK enters a period of even greater economic instability.


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Welcome to ourNews, where we keep up-to-date with research and other news related to infant mental health. These articles can be of interest to both parents and professionals.
We are keen to know your views and so please do comment on our articles.
Is there a topic that you would like us to write about? Just send us a message via 'Contact us'.

ourAdvice, our other blog, has brief posts with advice for parents.

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