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Infant Mortality

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards reaching the target of reducing inequalities in health outcomes as measured by infant mortality by 10 per cent. by 2010 in (a) the North East Strategic Health Authority area, (b) Bishop Auckland and (c) England. (100917)

The public service agreements health inequalities target for England is by 2010 to reduce inequalities in health outcomes by 10 per cent. as measured by infant mortality and life expectancy at birth.

It is supported by the specific objective in infant mortality starting with children under one year, by 2010 to reduce by at least 10 per cent. the gap in mortality between routine and manual groups and the population as a whole.

This is a national target. No targets for reducing inequalities in health outcome as measured by infant mortality have been set below this level, so no targets exist for the NHS North East area or for Bishop Auckland.

In terms of progress against the national target, infant mortality rates have declined in all groups and are at a historic low level. However, the rate of decline has been faster in other groups rather than routine and manual groups. As a result, there has been a widening in the relative gap between infant mortality in the routine and manual group and the total population between the target baseline 1997-99 and 2001-03 and 2002-04. The latest period 2003-05 shows a slight narrowing of the gap.

The infant mortality rate among the routine and manual group was 18 per cent. higher than in the total population in 2003-05, compared with 19 per cent. higher in 2001-03 and 2002-04. This compares with13 per cent. higher in the baseline period of 1997-99.