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State of Child Health: Wales – Two Years On

Two years ago, we published the State of Child Health in Wales and across the UK. Drawing upon the data in that ground-breaking snapshot of children and young people’s health, we drew up a series of recommendations for policy and decision makers in Wales. Last year we noted some real progress, including new legislation on public health, a group set up to review breastfeeding policy and a Parliamentary Review to propose a roadmap for the future of health and social care in Wales.

This year, we’re greatly encouraged to note further progress. The Minister for Health and Social Services has accepted recommendations on breastfeeding. We expect publication of a healthy weight strategy this year. The Assembly has passed legislation to introduce a Minimum Unit Price (MUP) for alcohol. A Ministerial group has been established to improve mental health support for young people and deliver the ‘step change’ called for by the Children, Young People and Education Committee. The Parliamentary Review has informed A Healthier Wales, the Welsh Government’s plan for health and social care, which places an emphasis on preventing illness as well as treating it and identifies “pre-birth and the first 1000 days as the most critical time to influence healthy outcomes”.

The urgent challenge now is in delivery and implementation. We need action to ensure that new rules on smoking in hospital grounds and children’s play areas are enforced; that a new framework on breastfeeding takes on the challenge of bringing about cultural change as well as change within services; that the healthy weight strategy delivers major interventions to prevent children from becoming obese and to support those children and families who need access to services; that the Ministerial group delivers real change in children’s mental health; that the Welsh Government’s ambitions for early years services are achieved; and that the vision

set out in A Healthier Wales becomes reality. As a College and a paediatric and child health community we reiterate our call for relentless Government action to deliver all of this and offer again our full support.