RCPCH responds to Health Select Committee report

The Health and Social Care Committee has published a report today about the first 1,000 days of life. Dr Max Davie, RCPCH Officer for Health Improvement, responds.

The report calls for the Government to "kick-start an Early Years Revolution" for the first 1,000 days of life, which it calls a "critical phase" during which time the foundations of a child's development are laid.

The Committee is asking the Government to produce a long-term cross-Government strategy, which should be led by the Minister for the Cabinet Office. This strategy should set goals to reduce adverse childhood experiences, improve school readiness and reduce infant mortality and child poverty.

Commenting on the publication of the Health Select Committee’s report on the First 1,000 Days of Life, Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are hugely important for their later health and development. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see the Health Select Committee call for a long-term, cross-Government strategy for the first 1000 days, with clear goals and a framework for delivery. We would like to see any such strategy focus on a number of key areas including infant deaths, smoking during pregnancy, breastfeeding and immunisation. In each of these areas, childhood poverty has caused poorer health outcomes and increased mortality rates, so tackling inequalities is essential to achieving success.

Whilst the recommendations published by the Committee today are welcome, they will be hugely difficult to achieve without significant investment in public health. Conversely, what we have seen in recent years is universal early years services bearing the brunt of public health cuts in local communities across the country. This needs to change. That’s why we support the Committee’s recommendation for the comprehensive spending review to prioritise expenditure on prevention and early intervention, thereby ensuring that all children in England have the healthiest possible start in life.