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Children's health 'in jeopardy' due to lack of health visitors

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Number of children in A&E rose by 7% in 3 years Number of children in A&E rose by 7% in 3 years

The falling number of paediatric health visitors is putting children’s health ‘in jeopardy’, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

In it’s the State of Child Health report, the RCPCH revealed the number of child hospital admissions rose from 1.2 million to 1.5 million from 2013-2016. The number of children attending A&E also rose by 7% - from 4.5 million to 4.8 million – over the same period.

Responding to the revelations, the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) shared the RCPCH's concerns that these rises may be due to gaps in paediatric rotas, uncertainty over the status of foreign NHS staff, poorly-coordinated planning and a demoralised workforce.

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iHV executive director Dr Cheryll Adams said: ‘The iHV shares the concerns of the RCPCH that children’s health services are being put at risk by a serious shortage of paediatricians. This situation, coupled with the reducing numbers of health visitors, will have a drastic impact on the health and wellbeing of babies, children and families.

‘A health visitor’s role is to help parents to manage minor illnesses and reduce accidents within the home and so reduce the numbers of babies and children needing to go to hospital. But the reducing health visitor numbers will put a greater demand on reducing paediatric services, which will have economic consequences for the future, particularly on the already cash-strapped NHS.’

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The RCPCH report is based on data from the RCPCH Workforce Census 2015, with additional data from the Office of National Statistics, and RCPCH trainee recruitment processes.

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