The latest figures from the Department of Education reveal that the number of reviews into child deaths have fallen a little since last year, and the number of reviews completed within 12 months of a child’s death has increased. The number of deaths attributed to non accidental injuries, child and abuse and neglect was 47, with the largest number of deaths (2,931) due to medical reasons.

The most controversial aspect of these figures lies within the ‘modifiable factors’ indicator. This refers to deaths which could have been prevented and often come about as a result of actions not taken and things that could have been done to prevent those deaths, but weren’t. A working definition of modifiable factors are those, where, if actions could be taken through national or local interventions, the risk of future child deaths could be reduced.

While deaths related to medical conditions featured the highest number of child deaths, the modifiable factors within those deaths were amongst the lowest (20%). However, when we look at the number of deaths caused by abuse or injury, which features the smallest number of deaths, the modifiable factors indicator for this group is the second largest after unexplained deaths. We would expect a great deal of uncertainty around unexplained deaths, but we would not expect such ambiguity in cases where children die of conditions which have been identified. This then, make the modifiable factors indicator within child abuse and neglect deaths deeply worrying, and could suggest that councils are failing children at the most critical level.

Many thanks to Nicky for sharing these stats with us.

CD