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Heads Up!! First 1001 Days campaign launches next week to increase public health funding for babies and young children

17th September 2021

As part of the First 1001 Days Movement, the Institute of Health Visiting is excited to be launching a new campaign next week setting out the case for investment to deliver the Start for Life vision, including money for health visiting in the Spending Review.

We invite you to join with us as part of this growing Movement calling for change. The needs of babies and young children have been ignored for too long. Families are experiencing a postcode lottery of support as health visiting services have been cut beyond the bone, NHS services are overwhelmed by a backlog of health issues with bursting A&E departments, and babies and young children pay the ultimate price for the failings in the systems designed to safeguard and protect them.

Babies can’t speak, and they need all of us to speak for them with one collective voice. By coming together, we create a powerful force for change that cannot be ignored.

Look out for more information on the campaign next week.

In preparation for next week, lots of people have been asking what the Spending Review is – sounds pretty boring. Why does it matter to us?

On 7 September 2021, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, launched the Government’s multi-year Spending Review which sets out their planned funding for the next three years. The Government wants to, ‘Build back better’ and ‘Ensure that every pound is well-spent’.

How do they make their spending decisions?

Civil servants have been working hard over the summer and each government department submitted their ‘wish list’ to the Review on 13 September. Alongside these returns, the Government also considers representations in the form of written submissions from interest groups, individuals and representative bodies – the deadline for submission is 5pm on 30 September. The iHV will be completing a written submission making the case for improving outcomes for babies, children and families through a strengthened health visiting service and an end to the postcode lottery of support.

Why does this matter for health visitors and the families they work with?

It matters because the Spending Review will include decisions on whether the Government plans to invest in health visiting over the next three years. These are therefore very important decisions for all health visitors. We have been calling on the Government to invest in health visiting for a long time now. Investment is urgently needed to reverse years of cuts to the service which have impacted on families and the wider healthcare system.

Should we be hopeful? Haven’t we heard this all before?

There have been some positive signs that the Government is listening and finally taking the needs of babies seriously. In the introduction to the Government’s review by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, ‘The best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days’ published in March of this year, Leadsom says:

 “The building blocks for lifelong emotional and physical health are laid down in the period from conception to the age of two and we don’t give this critical period the focus it deserves. Prevention isn’t only kinder, but it’s also much cheaper than cure – what happens to an infant in the 1,001 critical days is all about prevention, and a strong, supportive policy framework in this area can truly change our society for the better, while saving billions for taxpayers”.

Behind the scenes, the Institute of Health Visiting has been working closely with partners, who have come together with one voice, calling for investment into health visiting.  We have also been meeting with government officials and parliamentarians, sharing evidence to influence these policy decisions. We were therefore delighted to see that the Early Years Review also included a pledge to prioritise the recovery of Health Visiting and the Healthy Child Programme”.

The Spending Review will signal whether these were just nice words, or whether they will follow this through with the action and investment needed to make the difference… the jury is out.

But, for now, I would urge you to join this growing movement calling for change and do all that you can to build support locally and nationally for the full implementation of the Leadsom recommendations.

Look out for more news next week.

Alison Morton, Executive Director at Institute of Health Visiting