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iHV 2024 General Election Manifesto position statement to strengthen health visiting

Public health and health visiting are devolved responsibilities across the UK. As such, there is variation in terms of health visiting policy, funding and workforce capacity. Each UK nation has its own national blueprint for health visiting. The upcoming General Election provides an opportunity to influence policy for health visiting in England. The iHV is calling for a significant increase in the number of health visitors in England with the following manifesto briefing:

Policy: All families should receive the full offer of health visiting support set out in national policy in the Healthy Child Programme and Health Visiting Model for England.


  1. Funding: All areas need sufficient funding to deliver the full specification for the national health visiting model and Healthy Child Programme Schedule of Interventions. Long-term investment, with ring-fenced funding, will help services to plan and build world-class services, ending the uncertainty of short funding cycles.
  2. Workforce: The national long-term workforce plan to retain, train and reform the health visiting workforce needs to be delivered in full, alongside funding for substantive posts. Demand-driven workforce modelling is needed to ensure that the workforce plan enables sufficient capacity to deliver the Healthy Child Programme to all babies, children and families as intended – it is estimated that 5,000 more health visitors are needed to meet the scale of families’ needs and replace workforce losses since 2015.
  3. Governance: Update OHID 0-19 Commissioning guidance – providing greater clarity and system levers to ensure equity of health visiting provision throughout England and ending the current postcode lottery of support that families face during pregnancy, postnatally, and through the first five years of their child’s life.

Key Messages:

  • Children born in England have some of the worst child health outcomes compared to other similar nations, with widening health inequalities, growing concerns about invisible vulnerable children, and soaring costs of late intervention. Tackling this requires a whole system response, including action to address the wider determinants of health. Action is also needed at an individual and community level to prevent, identify and treat problems before they reach crisis point. Health visitors provide an important part of the solution. When sufficiently resourced, they provide a vital infrastructure of support for families with babies and young children – with benefits that accrue across the health, education and social care system.
  • There are currently no levers to ensure that national policy set out in the Healthy Child Programme and Health Visiting Model for England are delivered. Families face a postcode lottery of support, with health visiting services experiencing significant cuts and role drift from their core “health” functions across numerous clinical pathways during pregnancy, postnatally, and throughout the early years. The needs of babies, children and families do not vary that much between local authority areas to justify the current variation in health visiting services across England.
  • Health visiting is the only service that proactively and systematically reaches all families from pregnancy and through the first five years of a child’s life. This provides support for all families across a breadth of physical health and mental health needs (for babies, children and adults), child development, social needs and safeguarding, and a vital safety-net for the most vulnerable that is not provided by any other service.
  • Cuts to health visiting services are having knock-on consequences across the health, education and social care system (for example, falling immunisation rates, fragmented postnatal care, increase in A&E attendance for children 0-4 years, inequalities in obesity rates, poor school readiness and soaring costs of late intervention/ child protection). Through their specialist public health role, health visitors can prevent, identify and work with families to treat problems before they reach crisis point.
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