Validate your membership/access to the iHV Champion hub here to receive your password.
Not a member? Join here.

Why do we need more health visitors?

25th May 2023

As all political parties are working on their manifesto commitments, the iHV continues its work to influence policies affecting health – we do this through evidence submissions, private meetings with policy makers and public-facing presentations in a variety of national forums.

Earlier this month, Alison Morton, iHV’s CEO presented a keynote seminar at the Westminster Health Forum: Priorities for children and young people’s health in England. The recording is now available to view.

Alison’s presentation sets out the key drivers for investment in health visiting and services that support babies, children and families. We now have more evidence than any other generation that the foundations for future health and wellbeing are laid in the earliest years of life. We need to take this seriously – yet, this is not being given the attention that it deserves. For too long children’s health has become dwarfed by a relentless focus in health policy on adult services, cutting the waiting lists, fixing adult social care and reducing demand on urgent care. Despite a whole raft of evidence on the importance of prevention and early intervention, much health policy action remains focused on downstream and late intervention.

If we have ever needed Specialist Community Public Health Nurses, we need them now, more than ever. Overall as a nation, we are becoming less healthy, lives are being cut short, and more and more people are living with multiple co-existing conditions and disadvantage that take root in early childhood. The WHO now lists the soaring rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as the greatest threat to global health. NCDs include cardiovascular disease, mental health problems and cancers – many of these conditions are largely preventable. Change is possible, but it will require a whole system of actions to tackle the wider determinants of health (poverty, housing, air pollution, legislation etc…). On an individual level, the evidence is clear – to change the story, we need to change the beginning of the story.

Through their work with all families, health visitors have a crucial role in the prevention, identification and treatment of problems before they reach crisis point. Alison’s presentation sets out some of the High Impact Areas where health visitors can make the biggest difference and the costly consequences of inaction.

We call on all political parties to include a plan, with funding, to rebuild the health visiting service in England – following 8 years of cuts and a 40% reduction in the number of health visitors – we need more health visitors!

Join the conversation