Child deaths amongst the worst in Europe (still better than the USA)

Chris Smyth reports in The Times 3rd May 2014: Child deaths among the worst in Europe

Britain has the worst child death rates in western Europe, according to figures that have prompted calls to end the “disorganisation” of child healthcare and tackle smoking and drinking by pregnant women.

Children under five in Britain die at the same rate as those in Serbia or Poland and more often than children in Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, according to a comparison of data from 188 countries in The Lancet.

Last year 3,800 under-fives died in the UK, a rate of 4.9 per 1,000 births, putting Britain 27nd in Europe. Iceland, which tops the table, has a death rate less than half that of Britain’s.

Richard Horton,editor-in-chief of The Lancet, said the reasons for Britain’s poor performance were varied, “but undoubtedly include the poor organisation of children’s health services in the UK”. He added: “Until our politicians begin to take the health of children — the health of the next generation of British citizens — more seriously, newborns and older children will continue to suffer and die needlessly.”

Child deaths worldwide have halved since 1990, but 6.3 million children still died before their fifth birthday in 2013, the research found. Guinea-Bissau, in west Africa, has the highest child mortality rate at 150 per 1,000, according to the study, co-ordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington. Singapore has the world’s lowest child death rate, at 2.3 per 1,000. South Korea, Japan and Australia also do better than Britain.

Ingrid Wolfe, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “These latest figures put us rock bottom of the western European league table.”

The bulk of child deaths occur in a child’s first year, with the majority of those in the first days of life.

“Many [deaths] are due to risky behaviours during pregnancy, for example smoking, which is more common among women who are socially disadvantaged so already at higher risk,” said Dr Wolfe.

The Department of Health said: “Deaths in infants, children and young people are falling, but we recognise that more needs to be done.”

The Telegraph: Child death rates in Britain worse than South Korea

Death rates among children in Britain are as bad as in South Korea, experts warn

Humanosphere reports 2nd May 2014: Most nations, except US, making progress against maternal & child deaths |

The Lancet World Map of Maternal Mortaility rates which are closely associated with Child Death rates:


List of countries by infant mortality rate (Wikipedia)

Furness – the chronology of endemic denial. “Loving the NHS to Death”

Ministers – Please bring in “chicken pox vaccine”..

Good News? Leeds General Infirmary child heart surgery unit ‘safe’ – for now

‘Rise’ in children treated on adult mental health wards

Update 29th June 2014: Louise Tickle reports for the Sunday Times 15th June 2014: Britain among worst in West for child deaths


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Community Health Councils, Patient representatives, Political Representatives and activists, Professionals, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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