Prioritising early childhood to promote the nation’s health, wellbeing and prosperity

Report published by The Academy of Medical Sciences on 5th February 2024

Throughout 2023/24, the Academy of Medical Sciences has been undertaking a major policy project involving researchers, charities, policymakers, health and care professionals, parents and carers to examine the impact of intervening in the early years (from preconception up to age five) on the health and prosperity of the nation.

The first report, published in February 2024, brings together the current evidence of the impact of the early years on long-term mental and physical health and highlights examples of effective, evidence-based interventions that can be made to improve child and lifelong health. 

The report, co-chaired by Professor Helen Minnis FMedSci and Professor Sir Andrew Pollard FMedSci, recommends urgent actions that should be taken to have the biggest impact on children’s health now and to secure the health and prosperity of the nation in the future.

The report sets out five priorities to address

  • Priority 1: Implement effective interventions and policies to improve child health and wellbeing and promote research to identify further approaches
  • Priority 2: Establish a unifying vision across Government for the early years to overcome policy silos
  • Priority 3: Address the decline in the child and family health workforce and fragmentation across sectors to deliver effective services for children
  • Priority 4: Collect, improve access to and link a broader range of data to facilitate research into interventions and policies that improve child health and wellbeing and their effective implementation
  • Priority 5: Ensure diverse child, parent and carer perspectives are represented in the development and implementation of new policies and interventions to facilitate their uptake and improve the likelihood of their success

SAIL Databank has been highlighted as an example of a UK initiative to improve access to and use of data to improve health including in the early years – ‘The Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank in Wales holds de-identified datasets in linkable form and, following further safeguards, makes selected data available for analysis in anonymised form to approved researchers.’

Read the full report here