This report explores the impact of the National Child Mortality Database (NCMD) programme in 2021.

2021 was a special year for the NCMD. Though the programme began in 2018, 2021 was the first year that we had sufficient data to begin sharing learning to fulfil our purpose: to improve and save children’s lives. We published our analysis of the data that we collect in five academic papers, two data releases, two thematic reports (on the impact of social deprivation and suicide on child mortality) and a briefing during the year.

Collectively, those publications were seen by 32,000 people on our website – and as many as 27.5m people saw our findings shared in the press and other websites, from academic publishers Nature and BMJ to media outlets like The Guardian and Newsnight.

Our findings were used by the NHS and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), among others, to inform policy decisions on the most pressing issues causing deaths among children and young people. Our findings on Covid-19 and its impacts on children and young people, derived from real-time data on deaths among children testing positive for the virus, were particularly important as the pandemic continued to develop.

At the same time, our webinars supported the practice of more than 750 child death review professionals through the year, and we answered more than 400 queries directly, in order to ensure that the child death review process is efficient, informative, and sensitive to the needs of bereaved families.

The NCMD acknowledges with thanks the hard work of Child Death Overview Panels around the country, and of the staff who make up our team, in the last year. Without their efforts, none of the achievements detailed in this report would have been possible.