Health and wellbeing priorities for children

Giving children the best start in life

We should focus our work on starting well with pregnancy, 0-5 immunisations, breast-feeding, dental health, good education, maternal health, children with disabilities, young people not in employment, education and training.

Why we see this as a priority

  • To ensure the best possible start in life mothers need to be healthy before, during pregnancy and during childbirth. There is very strong evidence that a child's experiences during the 0-4 year age period has a significant impact on their health and life chances as children and adults. We need to ensure that mothers are supported to have the best possible health they can have. Adverse experiences such as excess exposure to alcohol, drugs, smoking and neglect during early years can result in poor development and learning which affects later chances including cognitive development, educational attainment and employment prospects
  • Three groups who are prone to poorer health are children with disabilities (94 registered on the Carer's Support Register and 1,400 with disability living allowance), young people not in education employment or training (375) and young offenders. They are identified as a priority in the Children's Plan and we have higher levels of young people not in education, training or employment. Looked after children are some of the most vulnerable groups in society and in line with many other areas numbers are increasing. Reducing the need for children to become looked after will impact positively in the short and longer term. Interventions which impact on entry to the looked after system include early education, school based support on emotional health and wellbeing
  • Education for all ages and stages is critical in many ways (for future employment prospects, life expectancy and self reported health) and while we have some good news stories we still have some challenges with some vulnerable groups not achieving as well as they could do, this includes children on free school meals, those children whose first language is not English, looked after children and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children. We need to see improvements in the percentage of pupils achieving higher scores for GCSEs
  • The overall health benefits of a good education has been estimated to provide returns of up to £7.20 for every £1 invested

Key facts about Herefordshire

  • Breastfeeding initiation rates are marginally lower than the average for England at 74 percent, ranking eighth out of 15 comparators. Rates of breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks are similar to national levels at 47 percent, which are considered to be relatively low anyway
  • Immunisation rates within the first year are comparable to national and regional coverage at 94 percent, thereafter progressively lower within a child's second year with considerably lower rates than elsewhere for immunisation within the fifth year
  • We also have higher than average rates of tooth decay
  • Rates of unintentional and deliberate injuries among children in Herefordshire are higher than the national average 

Diagram showing the health and wellbeing priorities for children