rcpchFears over proposals by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to stop producing annual data on child mortality are being voiced by leading children's charities, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), NSPCC, Lullaby Trust and the National Children's Bureau.
 
The statistics, which cover childhood and infant mortality numbers, unexplained death in infancy, suicides and avoidable mortality, are set to be scrapped as part of a cost-cutting initiative.
 
Dr Hilary Cass, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "We are gravely concerned at the implications of the ONS no longer producing child mortality statistics. The UK is already lagging behind its European counterparts - with around 2,000 excess child deaths a year compared to the best performing country. 

"We need robust annual statistics to help reduce that figure by allowing us to delve deeper into why children are dying, propose solutions for preventing avoidable deaths and track progress. Put simply, not producing these stats poses a real threat to improving child health."

The UK's childhood mortality rates are amongst the worst in Western Europe, and the charities are warning that without the ONS data, it will difficult to know exactly why children are dying, what policies should be introduced to  reduce unnecessary deaths and whether interventions are working.
 
They also point out that no other central body collects this information or has the infrastructure to collate or quality assure such data - and international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) use the ONS data to compile international information on child health and well-being.
 
Those in support of maintaining the publication of annual child mortality statistics by the ONS are being asked to Tweet their support using the hashtag: #savethestats