Untrained GPs blamed for 2,000 child deaths - Health News - Health & Families - The Independent

Untrained GPs blamed for 2,000 child deaths

Incentive payments encourage GPs to closely monitor adult patients – but not children

Almost 2,000 British children a year die from “avoidable” causes because family doctors lack training in paediatric care, researchers warned yesterday.

Describing the situation as a  “national scandal”, the researchers said the UK was at the bottom of a European league, with the highest number of excess child deaths among 15 member states of the European Union. The UK child mortality rate is more than 60 per cent higher than that of the best performer, Sweden, which sets the benchmark for excess deaths. In Sweden, fewer than 30 children in every 100,000 die, compared with more than 47 per 100,000 in the UK.

The researchers blamed Britain’s health system, saying it had not adapted to meet children’s needs. The UK has one of the highest child death rates from pneumonia, twice as high as Sweden’s and three times those of France and Austria, even though the condition can be treated with antibiotics. In place of infectious diseases that were dominant a generation  ago, today’s children are more likely to face such chronic problems as asthma, diabetes or behavioural difficulties.

Ingrid Wolfe, programme director for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, who led the study, said: “Five more children a day die in Britain compared with Sweden. I think that is a national scandal and we don’t make enough of it.

“Two thousand families lose a child each year – arguably avoidably.” The study is part of a series on the state of health in Europe, published in the medical journal The Lancet.

It charts the widening gap in life expectancy between Eastern and Western Europe, which is greater now than it was 40 years ago, and the impact of the current financial crisis seen in rising suicide rates and mental health problems in affected countries.

Death rates among children have been cut dramatically throughout Europe over the past three decades as a result of better housing and nutrition, improved healthcare and stronger public-health measures such as smoking bans. But Dr Wolfe said health services were not keeping pace with changes in children’s health needs. “Arguably, we should not be allowing children to die from pneumonia in countries with high-functioning health systems,” she said.

On asthma, the UK has the highest death rate and the highest prevalence of the condition out of eight European countries. Sweden has the lowest death rate and average prevalence.

“This is a preventable cause of death,” Dr Wolfe said. “If anything, [asthma] being commoner in the UK means we should be better at preventing deaths from it.”

Most illnesses among children is minor and the biggest challenge for doctors is to distinguish potentially serious cases from trivial ones. That depends on the skill of the “gatekeepers to care” – or the UK’s general practitioners.

Dr Wolfe said British GPs lacked training in paediatrics and did not work as closely with child specialists as their colleagues in Sweden do.

Common complaints: child illnesses that can kill 

Pneumonia is the most common serious childhood bacterial infection. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, rapid heart beat and fever. It can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, bronchitis and asthma. In severe cases it needs treatment in hospital with antibiotics and oxygen to help breathing.

Asthma affects over a million children in the UK but its incidence varies widely among countries. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Usually the condition can be managed at home but an asthma attack may be life threatening. Research shows two-thirds of hospital admissions for asthma can be avoided.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Undergraduates will be able to study beatboxing and performance poetry at one of Europe’s leading conservatoires for the first time, after the Guildhall School of Music and Drama revealed plans for a “groundbreaking” degree course.

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

    HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

    Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week