The UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe. In 2013, mortality in children aged less than 5 years was 4·9 per 1000 births in the UK, which was around 25% higher compared with France, Germany, Italy, or Spain, and almost twice as high compared with Sweden (2·7 per 1000 births).1 As both the UK and Sweden have comparable standards of economic development and universal health care, Sweden is often viewed as a benchmark for reductions in child mortality that should be achievable in the UK.2, 3, 4, 5

Policy makers and child health professionals have called for improvements in child health services to reduce child mortality in the UK relative to Sweden, including more efficient general practitioner (GP) responses to sick children through better integration of GP and paediatric services and enhanced training.2, 4, 5 However, the higher rate of child mortality….continue reading