Government released wrong information on child deaths in Tower Hamlets

Government statistics which suggested Tower Hamlets had the third highest infant mortality rate in London were wrong, officials revealed this week.

Confusion over figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) saw the Advertiser initially report the borough had the second-highest number of child deaths in the capital in 2011, second only to Brent. But after further inquiries, it seemed Tower Hamlets actually came in third and the paper subsequently updated our website’s report.

Now, the ONS has revealed the 2011 figures aren’t even available yet, and blamed a “production error” for the mistake.

A spokesman added: “The number of deaths reported were for children under 16 years, not infants under one year. The table has now been updated.”

Dr Somen Banerjee, joint director of public health in Tower Hamlets for NHS North East London and the City, said local health bosses had been “surprised” by the ONS statistics.

“Their figures appeared to show a much higher infant death rate than ours - but this has now been confirmed as an error,” he said.

“We believe that any death of a child is a tragedy and are committed to reviewing all child deaths and identifying what can be done to prevent them.”

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“Infant death can be caused by many factors. Often more deprived areas have higher death rates. Tower Hamlets is a deprived borough but has lower infant death rates than average for England.

“The NHS in Tower Hamlets has invested significant resources in working with our community and partners in health and social care to improve the health of mothers and babies in Tower Hamlets.”