RCPCH responds to latest National Child Mortality Database figures

The National Child Mortality Database (NCMD) has published a report summarising the number of child deaths up to 31 March 2023.
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The report shows:

  • In 2023, the child death rate was 31.8 per 100,000 children, an increase from 29.3 in 2022. 
  • The infant death rate increased from 3.6 per 1,000 live births in 2022 to 3.8 per 1,000 in 2023. 
  • There is a clear association between the risk of death and the level of deprivation for children in England:
    • Infant death rate for infants in the most deprived neighbourhoods increased from 5.4 per 1,000 infant population in 2022 to 5.9 in 2023, which is more than twice that of infants in least deprived neighbourhoods, which was 2.2 per 1,000 infant population and a decrease from 2.4 per 1,000 in 2022. 
    • The child death rate for those in the most deprived neighbourhoods increased from 41.5 per 100,000 in 2022 to 48.1 in 2023, which is more than twice that of children in least deprived areas. 

In response to the data, RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon, said:

Every death of a child or young person is a unique tragedy, so the latest NCMD figures make for a devastating read. The data now shows that infants and children living in deprived areas are more than twice as likely to die than those in less deprived areas. This is a harrowing but avoidable statistic. Behind this awful data published today, is a whole raft of deteriorating child health outcomes and the clear driver is rising child poverty in the UK.

Poverty, health inequalities and the associated loss of life is not inevitable. Poverty is a political choice, and our government has had ample opportunity to tackle it. If our government wants to get serious about health, then it must also get serious about poverty and inequality. After all, infant mortality is a globally recognised sign of how well a country is looking after the health of its citizens. What do today’s figures then tell us? 

Figures such as these in a nation as rich as ours are unforgivable. Reducing child poverty must finally become a national priority. We need to see a clear strategy, with measurable targets across national and local levels, and a strong emphasis on preventative health measures. This has to be a wake-up call for us all and I urge our political leaders to action.