The Institute of Health Visiting has signed a letter from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to The Times entitled ‘The nation’s health is at stake’.
Reports of health visitor cuts has prompted the drafting of this letter, in which the RCN urge government to halt said cuts for the benefit of the nation’s health. In addition to the iHV, the letter has been signed by a number of major health organisations including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB).
Over 4,000 new health visiting roles have been created in the five years since the launch of the government’s Health Visitor Implementation Plan, but the RCN warn that the significant funds invested in this are being wasted now that posts are being cut throughout England.
The latest workforce figures indicate that the number of health visitors in the country has been falling since the start of 2016, with a loss of 433 between March and April alone. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this drop is just the start of a significant reduction in the number of these crucial services, due to cuts in Local Authority budgets.
The purpose of the RCN’s letter is to protect health visitor funding by illustrating its crucial value to public health, and the detrimental consequences cutting these services could have for children and families.
Health visitors aren’t the only health professionals whose jobs are under threat, however: before he left office, David Cameron was pilloried for his cuts to school nursing services in June of this year, while the publication of the RCN’s letter coincided with a round-table event hosted by the college which looked at how to minimise public health cuts in general.