The Welsh public believes that the health of children should be a 'very important priority', a survey by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has found.
The survey of 250 Welsh adults found that 78% of people think that child health should be a priority for NHS Wales. This is more than those who thought elderly care, maternity care, mental health services and adult healthcare should be a priority which saw responses of 68%, 66%, 67%, and 64% respectively.
‘Despite having one of the most advanced health systems in the world, child health outcomes across the UK are among the poorest in western Europe,’ said Dr Mair Parry, officer for Wales at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. ‘Wales continues to have the worst rates for childhood obesity in the UK and child death rates in the most deprived parts of Wales are much higher than those in the least deprived.’
The survey also examined the public’s thoughts on how child health could be improved. Of the respondents, 81% said that they supported a duty for school governors to provide medical assistance in schools to improve support for children with medical needs. Responsibilities for this would include administering insulin to a child with diabetes and supporting a child suffering from asthma to use their inhaler.
‘For far too long, children’s health has been slipping down the priority list with care for the elderly being the focus for most political parties,’ added Dr Parry. ‘From tackling obesity and poor mental health, to making sure child health in schools is the best it can be, the public has spoken loud and clear.’
Similarly, 81% of adults in Wales thought that children should be educated in schools about the causes of poor health, such as drug and alcohol use, mental health, and relationships ‘We need politicians of all party colours to commit to making child health an equal priority, something that over three quarters of Welsh adults agree with,’ Dr Mair concluded.