We are delighted to see the support of Professor Russell Viner, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), for the health visiting profession.

Redeployment during lockdown means many families are missing out, says Professor Viner

Professor Russell Viner, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) comments on today’s publication of Bleak Houses: Tackling the crisis of family homelessness in England by the Children’s Commissioner.

iHV is saddened to learn that 124,000 children are now classed as homeless with some children needing to be housed in shipping containers. The councils blame this on a shortfall in their income of £159 million.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, said:

“Whilst this sounds like a lot of money for the government to find, the actual costs of short, medium and longer term negative consequences for these children and their families on the fiscal purse will be very much more, including costs to the care, health, education, social security and criminal justice budgets.”


There are thousands of children in England who are living in homeless families, stuck in poor quality temporary accommodation, often with low prospects of finding something permanent. There are many others who are at risk of ending up homeless. This report shines a light on this homelessness crisis and shares the experiences of some of those children.




An open letter on the crisis in breastfeeding in the UK has been issued today, signed by midwives, health visitors, paediatricians, lactation consultants, breastfeeding counsellors, peer supporters, university researchers and others who work for professional organisations and charities that support families – including the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV).

The letter follows the recent series in The Lancet on breastfeeding – the most comprehensive review of all the evidence on breastfeeding to date.

The open letter states: “The breastfeeding crisis in the UK is in fact a crisis of lack of support for those mothers who choose to breastfeed.” It highlights the recent cuts to breastfeeding support services and the infant feeding specialist posts, which are driven by cuts to public health, which amount to £200 million in total in England.

Cheryll Adams, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“The uptake of breastfeeding is a major public health issue and the UK must address its very disappointing figures, laid bare by the Lancet, as a first step in also addressing many other health issues improved by breastfeeding, including the challenging year on year increase in childhood obesity which breastfeeding can protect against. A reduction in childhood obesity is a priority for the government so breastfeeding must now also be given priority status with mothers given access to the professional and voluntary support they need to breastfeed for as long as they wish.”

The open letter will be sent to all four governments of the UK and in particular to: Jane Ellison (Minister for Public Health), Ben Gummer (Minister for Care Quality), Duncan Selbie (Chief Executive, Public Health England) and Simon Stevens (Chief Executive of NHS England).