iHV joins a group of 8 leading health organisations in publishing and sharing a consensus statement calling for the Government to urgently act to reverse increasing inequality in children’s oral health.

A survey of oral health in five-year-old children, produced as part of the National Dental Epidemiology Programme and published last week, found that over 35% of children in areas of deprivation experienced dentinal decay in 2022 in comparison to only 13.5% in more affluent areas.

With tooth decay the leading cause of hospital admissions for five-to-nine-year-olds, there is a significant, and preventable, knock-on cost to the NHS.

Families do need to be equipped with the knowledge to encourage and oversee good hygiene practice amongst children. However, this report’s worrying findings are not a result of behaviour, poor choices or a lack of education. Rather, they are a result of a wider system failure to take forward proven, cost-effective public health measures that prevent tooth decay and improve everyone’s health and wellbeing.

We therefore urge the Government to:

  • Impose further restrictions on the marketing and sale of sugary food and drinks.
  • Support policy across all departments to improve access to affordable, healthy food.
  • Increase the number of water fluoridation schemes, which are the single most effective public health measure for reducing tooth decay rates.
  • Improve access to fluoride varnish programmes.
  • Facilitate timely access to free child dental services for preventative advice and early diagnosis.
  • Ensure that the early years workforce are educated about the importance of child oral


We have received numerous enquiries from health visitors asking for greater clarity for the health visiting service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Institute is doing all we can to expedite this information for the profession and have a dedicated COVID-19 section of our website which we are using to provide updates as and when they are received. However, at the moment the content still lacks this much needed detail for health visitors’ roles.

We have contacted Public Health England, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health to highlight the need for advice to manage the numerous queries that we are receiving from health visitors, including service leads around emergency planning and escalation for the health visiting service – things like, “should we carry on with universal contacts?” “Will I be redeployed? And if so, when?” “What about families who have safeguarding concerns or high levels of vulnerability?” “Am I in a priority key-worker group?” etc…

The latest update that we have received from Public Health England is that the NHS is leading on drafting guidance on community services including health visiting. PHE and local government have provided advice and we are awaiting publication.  We will alert our members and followers when we receive advice that it has been published – hopefully very soon. As there is considerable pressure and pace within the healthcare system due to the pandemic, we suggest that you also keep a look out on the government COVID-19 update web pages and contact your local commissioner and Director of Public Health who will be coordinating the response to the NHS guidance in your area.

Our position at the iHV is that we need to support the government-led decisions (nationally and locally) rather than issuing our own guidance which may cause confusion and mixed messages at this time when clarity is needed.

We will continue to do all that we can to help.

A big thank you to everyone working in health visiting at this time. You are all doing an amazing job during the uncertainties of the COVID-19 situation – it is comforting to know that we have great teams of people who care so much about the communities they work in, and the health and wellbeing of families.

The iHV is delighted to be partnering with The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) to tackle the serious consequences of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), as part of the Health Foundation’s programme on the social determinants of health.

This project will bring together key partners – including the police, public health professionals, healthcare professionals and children’s social services – to inform the development of resources on what good practice looks like, share and build on the work already underway in Scotland and Wales, and encourage more collaborative working on ACEs locally.

It is estimated that 50% of the UK population experience at least once ACE. Experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence or parental separation can have a negative impact on a child’s mental health, physical health, education outcomes, future employment and involvement in crime.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, said:

“Health visitors visit every family with a new baby giving them a unique opportunity to recognise and support parents, who may be taking the trauma of ACEs experienced as children, into their new role as a parent. We know that ACEs can affect how parents respond to their own children but, also that with the right training and a trusting relationship, health visitors can help these parents to manage this early trauma either through direct work, or by referring them onto other local partners, thereby helping to reduce the risk of ACEs for the next generation.”

ADPH Chief Executive, Nicola Close said:

“We know the impact of ACEs can be severe and long term, which is why they are increasingly recognised as being an important social determinant of health. No single agency or organisation can provide the solution – a whole system approach should be adopted which requires engagement from services across the life course. This funding will help us work with local partners to scale up approaches to tackling ACEs and push forward the case for national action.”

The Times has published an open letter organised by the Association of Directors of Public Health, and co-signed by 54 health leaders including the Institute of Health Visiting, calling for public health to be a priority in the Spending Review.

Furthermore, an article was also published in The Times to accompany it.

The text of the letter and list of signatories is available here on the ADPH website.


Please note you need to be a subscriber to The Times to read both the letter and article online.



The iHV welcomes the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) position statement on the Best Start in Life.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE said:

“The Institute of Health Visiting is delighted to support the ADPH position statement on Best Start in Life.  We hope this will also enhance our own work highlighting the risks where health visiting services have been dramatically reduced across the country. In some places, the cuts greatly exceed the percentage cuts to public health budgets which greatly impacts the services it is possible to deliver for very young children and a light should be shone on that too.”