Child health matters: A vision for 2017 “Effective, efficient, equitable”: invest now in the health and wellbeing of UK infants, children and young people to reap long-term gain

Whatever the result on 8 June, the RCPCH wants to see child health at the top of the agenda for the next Government and all UK parties. Improving child health makes moral, scientific, and economic sense and would be the best of investments for the nation, with the greatest long-term return.

The new Government can promote our long-term vision to improve child health outcomes by…

  • Recognising that policies that improve child health and wellbeing represent the investment that will result in the greatest economic return for the nation
  • Recognising the wider determinants of health and wellbeing
  • Enacting policies that ensure all infants, children and young people have the best start in life
  • Protecting and modernising health services to meet the needs of infants, children, young people and their families

Our vision: a cross-departmental child health and wellbeing strategy

The Prime Minister should establish a dedicated Cabinet Sub-Committee to develop and implement a clear strategy focused on getting health right from the very early years

Our vision: adoption of a “child health in all policies” approach

All national policy, including economic policy, must pass a test of no negative impact on child health and wellbeing.

Our vision: a commitment to well-resourced universal public health services

Local authorities need adequate funding from the next Government to deliver access to antenatal services, health visiting, school nursing, illness and accident prevention, and healthy living.

Our vision: preventing avoidable child deaths

Over 4,000 infants, children and young people in the UK died in 2014. Many of these deaths were avoidable, arising from road traffic and other accidents. These could be reduced by home safety schemes and graduated licences for novice drivers.

Our vision: increasing immunisation uptake

The UK falls below the WHO target for the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, with take-up in England at just 88.2%. We need a Government-led public campaign to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination and address vaccine hesitancy.

Our vision: preventing childhood obesity

Efforts to date have not been successful in halting the growing obesity epidemic. We repeat our calls for a ban on advertising foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt in all broadcast media before 9pm, the full implementation of the soft drinks industry levy, and continued development of a comprehensive reformulation programme to make food and drink healthier, with a clear plan for evaluation and a timetable for implementation.

Our vision: promoting breastfeeding

Breastmilk provides babies with all the nutrients they need at the start of life, and protects against infection, but the UK breastfeeding rate is among the lowest in the world. Robust data are needed to identify particular areas of need for targeted support, hence we call for the reinstatement of the UK Infant Feeding Survey. The next Government must take a more active role in ensuring national policies and services support women to breastfeed.

Our vision: improving child mental health and wellbeing

Young people tell us mental health and wellbeing is a huge priority and that the key is education. This is why we call for the effective implementation of statutory personal, social and health education without delay.

Our vision: securing an adequate child health workforce

There is a serious shortfall in the paediatric workforce. We are calling for identification of a responsible body for coordinated workforce planning and delivery, funding for an increase in the number of paediatric trainees, provision of immediate reassurance to EU nationals working in the NHS that terms and conditions of employment will be maintained, and immigration rules that allow entry to the UK of healthcare professionals whose clinical skills will benefit the NHS.

Our vision: delivering care built around the needs of infants, children, and young people

We want to see children’s services which are adequately funded and staffed, with fewer, larger, more specialised hospitals providing highly expert, consultant led and delivered care, supported by networked services deliver more care closer to home, and better provision in primary care. Children, young people and families should be engaged in the development and implementation of their services.

Our vision: a cross-party commitment to a publicly funded, provided, and managed National Health Service, free at the point-of-use

The UK has a health system which has been the envy of the world. Universal healthcare, publicly funded, provided, and managed, free at the point-of-use, is cost effective, efficient, and increasingly justified by evidence. The RCPCH is calling for a pledge from every party contesting this election to come together and make a commitment to sustaining an effective, efficient, equitable NHS.

Get involved!

We need you to promote #childhealthmatters to your local candidates ahead of the election. There are a number of ways to get involved:

  • Tweet your local candidates using the hashtag #childhealthmatters and ask them to support Vision 2017.
  • Email or write to your candidates and urge them to support RCPCH recommendations for child health policy.
  • Ask to meet with your candidates to discuss child health issues in more detail.
  • Contact the RCPCH public affairs team for more ways to get involved with our lobbying work: public.affairs@rcpch.ac.uk

Credits:

Created with images by FelixMittermeier - "swing playground play" • NIAID - "Syringe and Vaccine" • Presidencia de la República Mexicana - "Inauguración del Hospital Municipal de Chiconcuac"

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