Health for children in Cambridgeshire is a postcode lottery, says a new report

Child health is a postcode lottery

Child health is a postcode lottery - Credit: Archant

Thousands of children starting school in Cambridgeshire are obese and have tooth decay, according to a new report, which says health care for young people differs dramatically depending where you live.

Children living in the East of England have relatively good early childhood health, the report said, yet more than 6,000 children starting school are obese, almost 14,000 five year-olds have tooth decay, and nearly 4,500 under-fives are admitted to hospital each year with an injury.

Almost four out of ten of children in reception class do not reach a good level of development, according to the report.

The National Children’s Bureau looks at indicators of health and development in early childhood and reveals startling variations from region to region.

Poor Beginnings is published as responsibility for public health services is transferred from central government to local authorities in October.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: ‘It is shocking that two children growing up in neighbouring areas can expect such a wildly different quality of health.

“As these variations are closely linked to poverty, with those in areas with the highest levels of deprivation more likely to suffer from a range of health issues, we have to ask whether England is becoming a nation of two halves.

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“The link between poverty and poor health is not inevitable. Work is urgently needed to understand how local health services can lessen the impact of living in a deprived area.

Cheryll Adams, chief executive of the Institute of Health Visitors said: “Trends in inequalities in health can be complex as this report suggests, with poverty not always being associated with poor health outcomes.

“Although the greatest need is often concentrated in many poor communities, the majority of need, whilst less concentrated, is in fact in the rest of the population which is so much larger in number.”

The report calls on the government to set out a strategy to improve the health and development of children and families in the early years.