Illness, accidents, suicide and assaults lead to the death of about 500 children in Scotland every year. This fatality rate is higher compared to other European countries and the government is therefore considering the introduction of special reviews into each death, as part of an effort to cut the number of infant fatalities in the country. The review system is currently being trialled by researchers from Dundee University, the Scotsman reported.
Similar systems are already in place in the US, New Zealand and Canada and have proved effective in reducing child fatalities. The Ruby Reviews (as the process has been called in Scotland) are short meetings that aim to clarify the circumstances of death and determine whether the fatality was preventable. The meetings last for two to three hours and involve experts and people with intimate knowledge of the deceased child. Aside from gathering and evaluating information, the assemblies also deliver recommendations for care and safety improvements, so that similar incidents can be prevented in the future.
The project is led by Alyson Leslie, who said that the research team had carried out a number of death reviews in the Tayside region and was hoping to conduct more in the future. At present the plan is to collect information on 500 deaths within a year, hopefully garnering “invaluable” data for researchers and people responsible for improving child safety and care. The researchers have kept the government up-to-date on their progress and the results achieved so far are very encouraging. They strongly believe that these reviews, which have proved very cost-effective, should be widely adopted, Leslie added.