Child deaths “outrage”

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THE LEADER of Wigan’s health watchdog says the number of children dying in the borough every year is an “outrage” and further claims that poverty is to blame.

Sir Ian McCartney, the leader of Healthwatch Wigan reacted to the Child Death Overview Panel’s annual report which revealed that 19 children died in the borough last year - nearly all of whom lived in what Council chiefs deem to be deprived areas.

The report - which analyses the deaths of children aged between 0 and 18 – revealed that more than half (53 per cent) of the children who died did so in their first 27 days since birth with being born prematurely and smoking during pregnancy being the main factors.

However, in older children there were two suicides prompting concerns over cyber-bullying from the borough’s health chiefs.

Of the 19 children who died, 14 were from what are deemed by the authors of the report to be the most deprived areas of the borough.

Sir Ian, the former Labour MP for Makerfield, told members of the Wigan Health and Wellbeing Board that more needs to be done.

He said: “Poverty is a killer and the numbers in the report are an outrage.

“How many people must be living on the edge in our borough and 100 years on from the First World War we have food banks having to feed people in Wigan.

“Depravation is clearly a factor and it needs to be looked at.”

Wigan had higher numbers of deaths among children than the neighbouring boroughs of Bolton (17) and Salford (12). However between 2008-14 Wigan had the lowest number of deaths (135) whereas Bolton had the highest (172).

Sir Ian was backed up by the deputy leader of Wigan Council, Dave Molyneux.

Coun Molyneux said: “There is clearly a correlation between poverty and death, particularly suicides. And it is in these areas of the borough that the most help is needed but they are notoriously difficult to reach in that respect.”

And further concerns were expressed by Dr Kate Fallon the chief executive of the Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Fallon said: “Cyber bullying is a real problem in the borough and the fact we have young people taking their own lives is a very real worry. School nurses are trained to identify the signs of cyber bullying and education is the key.”