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Postcode lottery for childrens health

Wednesday 9th September 2015
A leading charity has said it is a postcode lottery when it comes to the health of children. Image Credit: XiXinXing
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The National Children's Bureau has said some local councils are not doing enough to prevent health problems in children, adding that it is a 'postcode lottery'. 

Obesity and tooth decay were highlighted as two of the main problem areas, with great discrepancies from one local authority to another. 

Analysing data from Public Health England (PHE), the charity said even in areas of similar deprivation there were significant variations in how healthy children under five were. Its report found that 51 per cent of of five-year-olds in Leicester had tooth decay but in West Sussex just 9.5 per cent of children this age had the same problem.

The National Children's Bureau called the findings "shocking", saying that poverty is a significant factor in the health of school children. However, it added that poorer health outcomes in deprived areas are not inevitable.

Using the information, the team calculated that a child living on the Isle of Wight is four times more likely to be taken to hospital with an injury than one living in central London.

Speaking about the findings, the government said councils needed to be able to allocate health spending themselves. Next month (October) all councils in England will have the responsibility for young children's public health services but improving services needs to be a "national mission", the National Children's Bureau warned.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the charity, said: "It is shocking that two children growing up in neighbouring areas can expect such a wildly different quality of health." 

She said urgent work was is needed to better understand how local health services can lessen the impact of living in a deprived area, with both local and national government involvement needed to "narrow the gap" for children.

Ms Feuchtwang added that this gap between poor and rich can continue into school and affect academic prospects if not properly managed.

Written by Mathew Horton

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