We have a statutory responsibility to put into place a Child Death Review Process as set out in Chapter 5 of Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018).
The purpose of the process is to:
- better understand how children unexpectedly die locally
- what could be done to try and prevent future similar deaths
- improve the health and safety of children.
The child death overview panel (South of Tyne) meets on a quarterly basis. The Director of Public Health is the chair.
The definition of an unexpected child death:
- the child's death was not anticipated as a significant possibility 24 hours before the death.
- where there was a similarly unexpected collapse or incident leading to or precipitating the events which led to the death
- this applies to children and young people aged 0 to 18-years-old.
Parents should receive information on the child death review process from the lead paediatrician when their child died and then from the Designated Doctor for Child Deaths, who tries to make contact with all bereaved parents.
If you are a parent or other family member visit Lullaby Trust (previously known as the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths) for information and support. There is also further information from them on the Child Death Review Process.
The Department for Education has published information from all Child Death Overview Panels about the characteristics of the children who died (age, gender and cause of death) and deaths with 'modifiable factors' (factors that could be changed to reduce the risk of future child deaths). One of the key findings is that 64% of deaths reviewed were for children under one year.
The publication of statistics for year ending 31 March 2018 has been postponed. They will be published by NHS Digital as the child death review policy transferred from the Department for Education to the Department of Health and Social Care in July 2018.