Since 1980 the infant mortality rate has decreased from 12 deaths per 1,000 live births to 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017; although I very much welcome this decrease, more needs to be done to reduce this as far as possible so that no parent should have to face such a tragedy. The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), launched earlier this year to coincide with the commitment to increase the NHS budget by £33.9 billion by 2023/24, seeks to ensure that every child has the best possible start in life.
The health of children and young people is determined by far more than healthcare. Household income, education, housing, stable and loving family life and a healthy environment all significantly influence young people’s health and life chances. By itself, better healthcare can never fully compensate for the health impact of wider social and economic influences. Nevertheless, the NHS plays a crucial role in improving the health of children and young people: from pregnancy, birth and the early weeks of life; through supporting essential physical and cognitive development before starting school; to help in navigating the demanding transition to adulthood.
Through the LTP, the NHS will accelerate action to achieve 50 per cent reductions in stillbirth, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality and serious brain injury by 2025. Part of this will be achieved through rollout of the updated version of the Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle to every maternity unit by March 2020.