Following yesterday’s launch by the Labour Party of their “Health Mission” in Manchester, the party has published its Child Health Action Plan. Labour’s ambition is for this to be the healthiest generation of children ever.

Labour’s Child Health Action Plan to:

  1. Cut waiting lists for children
  2. End the crisis in child mental health
  3. Transform NHS dentistry
  4. Crackdown on smoking and vaping
  5. Ban junk food advertising to children
  6. Introduce breakfast clubs for all primary school children
  7. Protect children from the growth of infectious diseases
    This includes delivering on the NHS workforce plan, training more health visitors so parents and babies get the best possible support. Plus reforming the service to allow health visitors to administer routine immunisations to vulnerable and at-risk children, ensuring more are protected from infectious diseases.

Alison Morton, iHV CEO, responded to the Labour Party’s Child Health Action Plan:

“We are delighted to see that the Labour Party is pushing ahead with their plans to grow the health visitor workforce in their Child Health Action Plan. This will build capacity in the service to tackle a wide range of inequalities in child health, as well as supporting families to access healthcare – for example, to improve immunisation uptake for families who do not currently experience easy access to services (and consequently often experience the worst health outcomes), reduce pressures on A&E departments for minor illnesses, and improve oral health. These have always been part of the role of health visitors but have fallen by the wayside in many areas, as services have been reduced to “firefighting” and child protection due to serious workforce shortages.

“If we’re serious about improving the health of our nation’s children, it is imperative that health visitors get back to their core “health” function, working with families to prevent, identify and treat problems before they reach crisis point.”

At the iHV, we have been working with all political parties and government officials to ensure that the health of our nation’s babies and young children is taken seriously. We have shared our Vision for health visiting and call for more health visitors as an important part of the solution to tackling the current poor state of child health and widening inequalities. We will continue in our efforts to influence policies affecting health as all parties set out their manifesto plans for child health ahead of a general election expected this year.

A new programme board aims to make sure every child grows up free from tooth decay as part of having the best start in life.

Today (26 September 2016) marks the official launch of the Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board (COHIPB).

Chaired and led by Dr Jenny Godson who leads on oral health improvement at Public Health England (PHE), the COHIPB brings together stakeholder organisations that all have key leadership roles for children and young people, including NHS England, the LGA, the British Dental Association, and the Institute of Health Visiting.

The Board’s ambition is that “every child grows up free from tooth decay as part of every child having the best start in life”. The group’s oral health action plan and 5 high level objectives have been developed and agreed by partners working together following a PHE Best Start in Life oral health roundtable held in July 2015.

The Board’s objectives are to ensure:

  • child oral health is on everyone’s agenda
  • the early years and dental workforce have access to evidence based oral health improvement training
  • oral health data and information is used to the best effect by all key stakeholders
  • all stakeholders use the best evidence for oral health improvement
  • child oral health improvement information is communicated effectively

Although oral health is improving in England, almost a quarter (24.7%) of 5 year olds have tooth decay, and oral health accounts for a huge cost to health services. The NHS in England spends £3.4 billion per year on primary and secondary dental care (2014) (with an estimated additional £2.3 billion on private dental care). Tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged 5 to 9 in 2014/15 with over 26,000 children admissions for an almost entirely preventable disease.

Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board Action Plan 2016 - 2020

Children’s Oral Health Improvement Programme Board
Action Plan 2016 – 2020

An oral health promotion module of the Healthy Child Programme (HCP) will be available shortly, which will sit on Health Education England’s e-learning for Healthcare website. The interactive resource is aimed at the early years workforce including health visitors, nurses and the child health team.

In the following weeks the Board will also launch:

  • a rapid review of evidence on the cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve the oral health of children aged 0 to 5 years
  • a return on investment (ROI) tool for oral health interventions for 0 to 5 year olds
  • an infographic which shows an example of the return on investment of the programmes included in the ROI tool
  • a tooth brushing feasibility report which shows the ease of delivery, acceptance and cost of an early years supervised tooth brushing scheme
  • a PHE toolkit to support supervised tooth brushing programmes in early years and school settings