Today I am publishing, on behalf of the Government, the statutory and operational guidance “Child Death Review” which outlines the framework which all practitioners involved in a review of a child’s death should follow. Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Authorities, as the new child death review partners, must make local arrangements for the review of all child deaths, in England.
The policy of child death reviews has, until recently, been the responsibility of the Department for Education. I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision on the transfer of policy for child death review set out in her written statement to the House on 18 July. This change will result in child deaths becoming part of the national Learning from Deaths Programme and its aim is to learn lessons to save more children’s lives and ensure that the way the NHS engages with the bereaved, continuously improves.
Related areas that remain the responsibility of the Department for Education include children’s social care including safeguarding children and child protection.
The revisions to the child death review process have been necessary to reflect the legislative changes introduced through the Children and Social Work Act 2017. The reforms underpin a stronger but more flexible statutory framework—one that will support local partners to work together more effectively to review the deaths of children in order to try to prevent deaths recurring by the same cause.
The findings from local reviews will be reported to the National Child Mortality Database (from April 2019), where the information, for the first time will be analysed centrally and will provide additional learning beyond what can be achieved by local systems. The data will be analysed at the Child Mortality Data Unit at the University of Bristol and will be used to inform strategic improvements in health and social care for children, and to help health and social care providers to learn about how they can reduce child deaths.
NHS England plan to publish shortly “When a Child Dies - A Guide for Parents and Carers”. The guide has been developed by a group of bereaved parents, and support organisations and professionals.
Child Death review is an important piece of guidance for agencies, organisations and practitioners to know what they must do individually and collectively to robustly and thoroughly review and learn from every child death.