New analysis by the Labour Party suggests the number of health visitors has been cut by 8% since 2017.
Labour said that in June last year there were 8588 health visitors, compared to 7910 this year. Additionally, the party estimates that the number of school nurses has decreased by 24.7% since May 2010.
‘Health visitors play a crucial role in caring for vulnerable children and their mothers from the very beginning of life,’ said Jon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, speaking at the Unite/CPHVA Conference. ‘We know that early intervention and the first 1,001 days of life are critical in a child’s development, a fact this Government is blatantly turning a blind eye towards. Yet savage cuts to health visitors, school nurses and community nursery nurses is another betrayal of our children.’
Labour’s research also found a massive regional disparity in health visiting services, with 11.5% of babies missing out on a newborn visit compared with. the figure was 17.2% in the South West of England. In the North East, 90.1% of babies received a two and a half year check, compared to just 76.9% in the West Midlands and 62.6% in London
Other members of the healthcare community echoed Mr Ashworth’s statements. ‘These figures show the Government is sleepwalking into a bleak future for children and young people’s health,’, said Sue Warner, Member of the Royal College of Nursing's Council and a health visitor.’ Only this week RCPCH warned of increased infant mortality, poor child mental health and obesity if we don’t act now. It's clear health visitors and school nurses are key to tackling these issues, by identifying the health and care needs of young children, and supporting and educating their families. Getting them help before it’s too late.’