Growth in infant mortality highlights desperate pressures on the NHS

The annual statistics on stillbirths, infant deaths and childhood deaths in England and Wales were published yesterday by the government. The report also includes data on the causes of death and information on key risk factors.

This report evidences the first two-year increase in infant mortality rates in England and Wales for the last 30 years. Former Health Minister and Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb said:

Infant mortality has been in steep decline for over 30 years. However, this success cannot lead to complacency.

Figures released today show there is a trend towards increased infant mortality rates over the last two years. Losing a child is one of the most heart-breaking experiences imaginable. The government must urgently examine the cause and what might be driving this disturbing reversal of historic falls in infant mortality. The fact that the NHS is under such strain may well be contributing to this.

That is why the Liberal Democrats want to put a penny in the pound on income tax, to maintain and improve standards in the NHS.

At Spring Conference, a motion was passed celebrating the NHS at 70 and recognising the wonderful contribution of NHS staff.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Baroness Judith Jolly said:

This motion celebrates the 70 years of the excellent health care system we have benefited from in this country.

It is important that, going forward, we recognise the growing pressures on our NHS and social care and put measures in place to ensure our NHS can continue providing the vital care that we all rely on, for decades to come.

The Liberal Democrats know that this will require bold steps which is why, in addition to our commitment to get the NHS the funding it needs by raising income tax by a penny in the pound, we will also work to improve quality of care and medical research by reviewing our approach to the use of health data and fund initiatives to improve mental health and preventative care.

It was overwhelmingly agreed that the party would hold a review of the current capture, use and ownership of health data, with a view to making recommendations that balance the principles of assisting medical research, protecting the privacy of patients, and guarding against any unjustified concentration of data ownership.

A commitment to introducing additional resources to allow Mental Health Support Teams to be made available in all schools by 2019 was also passed.

Thirdly, the motion included a call to introduce a national scheme of preventative blood pressure monitoring run by community pharmacies.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for St. Albans Daisy Cooper, who submitted the motion, said:

Liberal Democrats have a plan to tackle the three big challenges facing the NHS at 70: we’ll tackle funding with a ring-fenced 1p NHS and social care tax, we’ll address the staffing crisis with an “NHS passport” to guarantee the rights of 59,000 EU health workers and the re-establishment of student nurse bursaries, and we’ll empower individuals by tackling health inequalities at a community level.