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 worked with The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Royal Colleges and other partners to produce the consensus statement for information sharing and suicide prevention.

The consensus statement sets out how and when clinicians should share information about patients, within the legal framework, where this may help prevent suicide.

The statement aims to address the balance between reducing suicide risk through sharing of information, and respecting patient confidentiality.

This document replaces the original consensus statement published in 2014. The updated statement reflects the current legal position, including the implementation of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

In addition, the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) has produced guidance for frontline staff on how and when they should share information about patients where this may help prevent suicide (SHARE: consent, confidentiality and information sharing in mental healthcare and suicide prevention – guidance for health and social care staff on how to use the consensus statement and how to engage with patients when discussing confidentiality and consent to share information. The ZSA guidance should be read alongside the consensus statement.

The SHARE resource, developed by the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA), is designed to support health and social care staff on:


Despite the stalemate in Stormont, all political parties in Northern Ireland have co-signed a ground-breaking Consensus Statement, drafted as part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance Everyone’s Business campaign, committing to close the gap in specialist mental health provision for women during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth.

England, Scotland and Wales have faced similar challenges with their specialist perinatal mental health services, but in recent years each have seen significant improvements due to specific and targeted investment. While stakeholders in Northern Ireland have shown support in principal, until now a formal commitment had not been made.

Key facts:

  • Women and families in 80% of Northern Ireland cannot access specialist perinatal mental health community services and there is no Mother and Baby Unit in Northern Ireland.
  • All political parties in Northern Ireland have now officially signed a historic statement agreeing to work together to change this.
  • The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is calling on the parties to unlock urgently needed funding for women and families requiring an inpatient Mother and Baby Unit and specialist community services in every Health Trust.
  • Untreated perinatal mental illnesses can have a wide range of effects on the mental and physical health of women, their children, partners and significant others.
  • In severe cases, perinatal mental illness can be life-threatening: suicide is a leading cause of death for women in the UK during the perinatal period.
  • The economic cost to society of not effectively treating perinatal mental illness far outweighs the cost of providing appropriate services.
  • If perinatal mental health problems were identified and treated quickly and effectively, these serious and often life-changing human and economic costs could be avoided.

The MMHA – a UK-wide coalition of over 90 organisations including the Institute of Health Visiting – together with 18 Northern Ireland-based organisations, including NSPCC NI and AWARE, welcomes the parties’ commitment to deliver life-saving perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland.