Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Paediatrics

Child health: UK must regain “lost ground,” Kingdon urges next government

BMJ 2024; 385 doi: (Published 17 April 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;385:q877

Linked News

Paediatricians call for new cabinet level position of children’s minister

  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ
  1. giacobucci{at}

The outgoing RCPCH president is “ashamed” of the state of child health in the UK, she tells Gareth Iacobucci. But there are quick wins and more ambitious ideas that could turn things around with the right political will

“I am a very optimistic, glass half full person. But I think we’re in a really bad position in terms of child health in this country,” says Camilla Kingdon. After a proactive three years in post, Kingdon stepped down as president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in March. Steve Turner succeeds her in the role.

When asked to sum up the state of child health in the UK in an exit interview with The BMJ, Kingdon pulls no punches about the country’s current shortcomings. “When we benchmark ourselves against other OECD countries by almost any measure, we’re performing really disappointingly,” she says. “As a British paediatrician I’m upset because we’ve lost ground. To say that I feel ashamed wouldn’t be an understatement, because I think most people imagine that healthcare in the UK is an exemplar. But what we’re seeing from the data is that we’ve drifted backwards, badly.”

The figures Kingdon is referring to paint a bleak picture. In February the Academy of Medical Sciences published a report highlighting the “sustained rise” in infant mortality in England in 2014-17,1 with the UK overall ranked 30th of 49 OECD countries on this metric. By the age of 5 a fifth of children in England are overweight or obese, and a quarter have tooth decay. Throughout the UK child vaccination rates have fallen below World Health Organization target levels, and the demand for child mental health services …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription