The Best Start: The Future of Children’s Health, shows that as of January this year only half of London’s children received the mandated 6-8 weeks and 2-2.5 year health visitor review. In three of the four aspects of health visiting services, London fares the worst in England.
The report says cuts of £200 million to public health budgets are to blame for a sharp decline in the health visiting workforce. Between October 2015 and January 2017, England’s health visiting services lost 1,050 posts, equating to 10 per cent of the workforce - 85 per cent of England’s health visitor staff reported an increased workload over the same two years.
The report also highlights a 16 per cent drop in full time school nurses across England between 2010 and 2017 and finds that planned reductions in public health funding for 2016-17 have fallen most heavily on the local authorities aimed at improving children and young people’s health services.
The responsibility for commissioning public health services for 0 – 5 year olds was transferred to local authorities in 2015.
RCN London Regional Director Bernell Bussue, said:
“The performance of London’s health visiting services is extremely worrying. These public health services are vital for improving the health and wellbeing of our youngest infants and allow professionals to make the early interventions that can effectively address health inequalities.
“Nonsensical cuts to local authority budgets mean fewer health visitors on the ground across London – this is an unacceptable failure that leaves too many infants not receiving the assessments and treatments they are entitled to.
“When the responsibility for providing health visiting services was passed to local authorities, the hard cash needed to sustain the service should have followed – instead what we have seen is the devolution of more austerity that is now impacting some of our most vulnerable children.
“Health visiting services should be given the priority and funding they need. The Capital’s youngest children should not be bearing the brunt of government cuts.”
You can read the full report here.