The health gaps data released by the National Children’s Bureau is interesting.
Culled from a variety of resources, with data from different years, and different methodologies.
The data is based on area, trying to affirm our national idea about “post code lotteries”.
Yes, the area that we live in makes a difference, but the actual demographics of the area are sometimes the issue. It sounds “racist” to say that engagement varies by community and that the local authority and health bodies connect in different ways with those communities.
The data shows that some different ethnicities appear not to engage as well in certain fields, for example Gypsy / Roma attainment in reception class is significantly lower than average.
The variations regionally really need to be viewed in a rational light, taking into account engagement and how it is encouraged.
If a community has different social norms (perhaps different foods are common, contacting social or health professionals is not accepted, or oral care is conducted differently) this needs to be taken into account.
Dental decay on a regional level could be to do with access to Special Care Dentistry, which often assesses and treats “difficult” patients, including socially excluded groups (looked after children, those with mental or physical problems which prevent them seeing a standard dentist, or children who will not usually respond to treatment). Many trusts are cutting these services to save money, assuming that local general practice dentists will pick up the slack.
It could also be to do with the price of Dental Units (how much nhs dentists are paid for their work) – if you’re getting £20 to fill a whole mouth due to the way costings work, you’re less likely to take your time doing it and to treat children with fissure sealants and other preventative measures. Even NHS dentists recommend their family go private.
There is a huge drive for oral health starting out there, but if the message reaches children is another matter. Especially as parents are apparently meant to supervise children brushing until they’re at least twelve.
With regards to reception attainment I feel we have something more important to do. Engage our boys.
39.6% of reception class students do not have “good” development. Ignoring the fact that some students always have to be less than “good” for “good” to have any value whatsoever, this breaks down into ethnic distinctions, which are not generally drastic, BUT the most telling fact of all is that gender-wise 31% of girls are not “good” compared to 48% of boys. Clearly we are failing to engage and educate our boys.
Figures aren’t always as clear cut as they seem, and the stories behind the headlines need closer investigation. Probably by someone more scientific than me!