GP resources must target the poor to decrease infant mortality

GPs must target their resources on disadvantaged families to cut the growing disparity in infant mortality rates, according to public health minister Caroline Flint.

Health minister Caroline Flint
Health minister Caroline Flint

But no extra funding will be made available because it comes under PCTs' allocation of money to reduce health inequalities.

A DoH report on infant mortality has recorded that between 2002 and 2004, a total of 9,132 infants died before the age of 12 months in England and Wales. Among families with routine and manual occupations, infant mortality rates were 19 per cent higher than the rest of the population.

This contrasts with a difference of 13 per cent between 1997 and 1999 when the government made a public service agreement that by 2010 this gap would be 10 per cent lower.

Most work will be needed in 46 spearhead local authority areas, known to have the worst health and deprivation indicators, where the infant mortality rate is higher than the rest of England.

GPs in these areas should target interventions at individuals in the social groups most at risk through practice-based commissioning where appropriate.

This would include smoking cessation, obesity and telling parents not to share a bed with their infant and ensure they do not sleep in the prone position.  

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