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Child health in 2030 in England: comparisons with other wealthy countries A State of Child Health Short Report

The health of today’s children and young people (CYP) will be one of the key factors determining whether England is healthy and prosperous over the next 50 years.

In our report, we used long term historical data on key CYP health outcomes and various projection modelling methods to estimate CYP outcomes in 2030 in England compared with other wealthy European and western countries. Our comparison group was the EU15+, consisting of the 15 countries of the EU in 2004 plus Australia, Canada and Norway.

Key findings

There is some good news, with England making excellent progress in smoking and in diabetes control. However, data presented here lead us to two particularly concerning conclusions.

First, England currently has poorer health outcomes than the average across the EU15+ in most areas studied, and the rate of improvement in England for many outcomes is lower than across the EU15+. Unless current trends improve, England is likely to fall further behind other wealthy countries over the next decade.

Second, the marked inequalities observed in most key outcomes are likely to widen over the next decade as problems in areas such as infant mortality and obesity are worsening more quickly among the most deprived section of the population.

Our key findings include...

Mortality

The UK infant mortality decline has stalled, and mortality has begun to rise after more than 100 years of continuous improvement. Currently UK infant mortality is 30% higher than median mortality across the EU15+.

If UK infant mortality begins to decline again at its previous rate, the UK rate will be 80% higher than the EU15+ in 2030. If UK mortality continues the current ‘stall’, then it will be 140% higher in 2030.

Nutrition

Projection of current obesity trends in England suggests that around 23% of 11-year-old boys may be obese in 2030 (an increase of 13% since 2016), with nearly one-third of the most deprived boys being obese (an increase of 18%), if the Government's Childhood Obesity Plan is not implemented.

Mental health and wellbeing

Wellbeing among English CYP is currently at the lower end of EU15+ countries, although falls in wellbeing amongst other countries may result in a convergence by 2030.

Reported mental health problems have increased five-fold over the past 20 years and will increase a further 63% by 2030 if current trends continue.

Emergency attendances and outpatient visits

There are currently 5.5 million Emergency Department attendances by CYP in England, making up 26% of all age attendances. Highest users for any age are for infants less than a year old. Attendances among CYP are projected to increase by 50% to 2030 if current trends are maintained.

CYP aged 0-19 years attended 11.2 million outpatient visits in England in 2016-17, an increase of 88% since 2003-4. Outpatient attendances among CYP are projected to increase a further 48% to 16.5 million by 2030 if current trends continue.

Call to action

The RCPCH calls for NHS England to develop a Children and Young People’s Health Strategy for England, to be delivered by a funded transformation programme led by a dedicated programme board. The term ‘health’ encompasses physical health, mental health and wellbeing. This strategy should set out a governance and accountability framework for the commissioning, implementation and delivery of interventions to improve CYP health outcomes.

We are pleased to be working with NHS England to ensure that infant, children and young people are front and centre of the NHS Long Term Plan. Prioritising children's health will give everyone has the best possible start in life, making sure that they receive the care they need and remain healthy into productive, happy adult lives.

Read the full report and recommendations on our website: www.rcpch.ac.uk/child-health-england-2030

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