RCPCH responds to the creation of the Office for Health Promotion

Professor Russell Viner writes about the proposed new body to tackle obesity and mental health, and the promotion of physical activity.

Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

“We welcome the creation of a cross governmental ministerial board to coordinate policies on the wider determinants of health. The pandemic has brutally exposed the inequalities that blight our society and there is a once in a generation opportunity to put children at the heart of policy making."

Sadly, we’ve been moving in the wrong direction on many child health indicators for years now. The national picture is poor, but the regional and demographic inequalities are shocking. Our State of Child Health 2020 report showed that health inequalities are growing. Parts of the country have nearly twice the average child mortality rate in the UK. On a whole range of measures from healthy teeth, to birth weight, to likelihood of contact with the justice system, children do far worse in areas where inequality is highest.

"This will take sustained commitment and money to put right. Communities rely on local services, but those Local Authority areas with most need have seen the bigger cuts to their budgets. These must be reversed. Similarly, public health, as shown by what we’ve been through this last year, needs to be properly resourced instead of the bare bones, year-on-year funding model that professionals and communities have had to become used to. Attention is welcome but empowering those delivering the vital services is essential. We look forward to more detail in the weeks ahead.”