iHV welcomes the new Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) briefing: Hitting the Poorest Worst? which investigates how cuts to public health budgets have resulted in substantial cuts to services, particularly among the most deprived communities in England.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV commented:

“This timely report  from the IPPR provides further evidence that the current arrangements for funding and delivery of preventative public health services for children and families is not serving them well. Relentless, year on year budget cuts are hitting the poorest hardest. We join with colleagues across the sector calling for urgent action to establish sustainable and fairer funding mechanisms to ensure that the rhetoric of giving every child the best start in life is translated into action to make the difference.”

The briefing shows that £1 in every £7 cut from public health services has come from the ten most deprived communities — compared to £1 in every £46 in the ten least deprived places. This has meant that the total cuts in the poorest places have been six times larger than in the least deprived. Those partners with specific interests should refer to Table 1 in the report and see the service-level breakdown of cuts.

Download IPPR Briefing – Hitting the Poorest Worst? How public health cuts have been experienced in England’s most deprived communities 


iHV welcomes PHE/COHIPB paper on breastfeeding and dental decay, and the statement below from Dr Jenny Godson MBE, Chair of the Child Oral Health Improvement Programme Board.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, commented:

“Health visitors will be very pleased to have this clarity.”

There have been a number of recent queries received by Public Health England (PHE) and the Child Oral Health Improvement Programme Board (COHIPB) with regard to policy and guidance on breastfeeding and dental decay.

The briefing paper clarifies current evidence and guidance.

Key points from the briefing are:

  • Dental teams should continue to support and encourage mothers to breast feed
  • Not being breastfed is associated with an increased risk of infectious morbidity (for example, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, middle ear infections)
  • Breastfeeding up to 12 months of age is associated with a decreased risk of tooth decay
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for around the first 6 months of life. Complementary foods should be introduced from around 6 months of age alongside continued breastfeeding.
  • The prevalence of breastfeeding in UK is low with 34% of mothers still breastfeeding their child at 6 months with only 1% exclusively breastfeeding
  • Further advice for dental teams can be found in Health Matters: Child Dental Health and Delivering Better Oral Health (2014)

With regard to the recent British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) position statement on infant feeding, it supports breastfeeding and seeks to provide individual level preventive advice to all. With regard to the small proportion of parents who continue to breastfeed after 1 year, the statement advises that with diversification of the infant diet to include foods and drinks other than breast milk or infant formula, the risk of dental decay changes depending upon the free sugar content of the complementary foods and drinks, and how frequently such foods are consumed and access to fluoride through the commencement of tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste. The BSPD statement recognises these confounding issues, and advises careful consideration of all factors and individual patient counselling.

There is evidence of benefits  to child health including oral health from breastfeeding however levels of exclusive breastfeeding at 6-months remain very low (1%). PHE and BSPD agree that dental teams have a key role to play in supporting and encouraging mothers to breastfeed.

Please find enclosed some information about the Be Food Smart App developed by the PHE marketing team – It follows on from the Sugar Smart App that was well received.  This was sent out to dentists to encourage their involvement.

Watch PHE’s film about the Be Food Smart app and see how much sugar, sat fat and salt is really inside your family’s food and drink.

The iHV is delighted to share a new addition to complete its very popular “Why a HV?” series of briefings around the 5 mandated visits.

“Why a HV?: New Birth Visit” covers knowledge and skills to support the second of the mandated visits.  The new birth visit is part of a series of reviews that health visitors undertake in the context of a valued relationship of trust established with parents from before the birth of their child and based on their knowledge of the family and community, as well as their direct assessment of their child’s development at this critical stage.

The review therefore requires knowledgeable and skilful assessment, observation and relational skills to identify and act on any concerns, and to promote positive health and developmental outcomes amongst which are: High Impact Areas 1, 2, 3 and 5.

These excellent briefings, written by Dr Robert Nettleton, can be used by Service Leads who are redesigning their service specification with their local commissioners.

Local authorities are charged with commissioning children’s public health services as part of a wider remit for children’s services.

This new briefing for commissioners of children’s services provides an overview of the central role that health visitors play in reducing unintentional injuries in the under-fives, along with the associated high personal and financial costs to children, families, communities and society.

Unintentional injuries in and around the home are a major cause of death and disability among the under-fives in England.

Please share this Local Authority Public Health briefing with your local commissioners – along with the other briefings in the series (under the “For commissioners” section on the link below).