Today, the First 1001 Days Movement, a coalition of over 200 charities and professionals, including the Institute of Health Visiting, published a ‘Manifesto for Babies’. The manifesto calls on all political parties to invest in prevention, demanding urgent support for vulnerable babies amid growing concerns about the health and welfare of Britain’s youngest.

The appeal follows last month’s warning from the Academy of Medical Sciences that the UK is “betraying” young children, by neglecting their essential physical and mental health needs.

The charities warn that a failure to act now will create “a ticking time bomb” that hits when children start school. The manifesto is published ahead of what is set to be the most crucial election for babies.

The manifesto recommendations include:

  1. An ambitious cross-government strategy to support babies’ healthy development, with a dedicated Cabinet Committee reporting directly to the Prime Minister, to ensure cohesive action.
  2. Sustainable funding for preventative services, including health visiting, and extending funding for the ‘Start for Life’ programme.
  3. Action to tackle health inequalities so that all babies have a good start to life – including targeted approaches to reduce inequalities and a commitment from the next government to tackle child poverty.
  4. Develop a workforce plan for children‘s social care and the early years, alongside delivering the NHS Long Term workforce plan.
  5. A rapid review of the tax and benefits system for parents and carers of under-2s, with increased paid paternity and parental leave, alongside training nursery staff on infant mental health

Local services are worried by the worsening health of the babies and young children they see:

  • Toddler development in England has declined over the last five years, with 1 in 5 two-year olds now below the expected level of development.
  • Slow development impacts on school readiness, with latest data showing 2.5 hours of teacher time is lost every day because children are not ‘school-ready’, and one in four children starting reception are not toilet trained.
  • The charities warn an estimated 10% of babies in this country are living in fear and distress because of disturbed or unpredictable care, and that one in five babies is missing the mandatory one-year old health visitor check where problems can be picked up early.

Evidence shows that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life, from pregnancy to age two lay the foundations for a happy and healthy life. The support and wellbeing of babies during this time is strongly linked to better outcomes later in life, including educational achievement, progress at work, physical and mental health.

Commenting on the “Manifesto for Babies”, Alison Morton, CEO Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“The next government must prioritise the health of our babies and young children. The current situation is deeply concerning as the health of our nation’s children has now plummeted to the lowest rankings amongst other comparable nations. Health visitors see the human face of these statistics every day. With more young children falling behind with their development and being harmed by conditions that are entirely preventable, there is a clear imperative to act.

“We urge all parties to listen to the collective voice of the First 1001 Days Movement coalition of more than 200 organisations captured in this manifesto. In particular, their call for urgent investment in health visiting to ensure that all babies and young children get the support that they need to thrive and to restore this vital safety-net for the most vulnerable.”

Keith Reed, Chief Executive at The Parent-Infant Foundation, said:

“Ignoring the needs of vulnerable babies leaves a ticking time bomb that hits when children start school. With the electoral battleground heating up, crucial services for babies hang in the balance. Start for Life cannot be allowed to suffer the same fate as Sure Start.  As babies can’t vote, it’s crucial that we speak up for them. Investing in babies’ wellbeing is not only the smart thing to do from a policy perspective, it’s a moral imperative.”

About the Manifesto for Babies

The Manifesto for Babies is published by the First 1001 Days Movement – a coalition of over 200 charities and professionals who believe that babies’ emotional wellbeing and development matters. Our members deliver a wide range of services that protect and support vulnerable babies and their families. These recommendations for UK policymakers are based on a survey of the First 1001 Days membership.

The Manifesto for Babies was developed by a Steering Group comprised of NSPCC, the National Children’s Bureau, Home-Start UK, the Institute of Health Visiting, the Anna Freud Centre, AiMH-UK, the Association of Child Psychotherapists, SANDS, Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development, Best Beginnings, Future Men, Approachable Parenting, Fatherhood Institute, Oxpip, the Parent-Infant Foundation and elected individual experts; Professor Eunice Lumsden, Bethany Boddy and Emma Carey.


A new report, A Covenant for Health, published yesterday, exposes the damaging effect that getting ill early in life with avoidable illnesses causes people, the economy and the healthcare system.

The report was led by a cross-party Commission of former ministers and health experts including Geoffrey, Lord Filkin CBE with Professor Kate Ardern; James, Lord Bethell; David Buck, The King’s Fund; Dr Paul Corrigan CBE, former Health Adviser, No 10; Professor Sian Griffiths CBE; and Professor David Halpern CBE, Behavioural Insights Team, with project support from The King’s Fund.

The iHV contributed evidence, insights and propositions to the Commission, alongside numerous other leading health organisations and charities including the Association of Directors of Public Health, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and the Local Government Association.

The report outlines why change is needed. The “Old-fashioned” model of giving priority to treating illnesses and neglecting prevention has led to a “sickness explosion”. They state that “the time has come to fix the politics to reboot the health of the nation and develop an Emergency Programme for Better Health by all of society.”

It is urgent to act – the UK has among the worst population health in Europe, large health inequalities, and very many people become ill much earlier than they should. Without resolute action it will get worse. The good news is that change is possible. The report’s authors state that, “Too often in the past political leaders have focused on immediate pressures and been timid.”

The Commission concluded that with the right action across all parts of society, in 5 to 10 years, we should be able to:

  • help 3 million people quit smoking, halving our smoking rate
  • help 4 million people avoid becoming obese
  • help at least 4 million be more active
  • help more children be physically and mentally healthy, fewer at risk of obesity
  • reduce the 30,000 deaths a year from poor air quality
  • help 5 million people to reduce their risk of CVD, still 24% of all deaths
  • help the people and places where health is worst.

Commenting specifically on children, the report states, “Most parents want their children to be healthy. Yet many children have health risks and conditions and so are more likely to develop early long-term illnesses and later, risk falling out of work. There is no government strategy to improve children’s health, OHID have the lead but not the levers. We suggest a focus on four topics: obesity, mental health, physical activity and early years.”

The report also states that “The costs are small compared to the growth of the NHS’s budget and they would be born across society as well as by government. The benefits would be great. A new government should move fast, define early what it wants to achieve, prepare for it, legislate, if needed, and make difficult changes early.”

Commenting on the report, former Labour Government minister and Chairman of the Covenant for Health Commission, Lord (Geoffrey) Filkin, said:

“Our “health” system prioritises treating people when they are ill but grossly neglects action to keep them healthy. This outdated model means millions of lives are degraded by avoidable illnesses and results in unbearable costs for individuals, society, and the economy. We need a radical change of mentality to prioritise prevention with an Emergency Programme for Health. We know how to do so, we can make great improvements rapidly, and this essential reform will cost little.”

Lord (James) Bethell, former Conservative Government Health minister, said:

“The Office for Budgetary Responsibility made clear we are on the road to financial ruin unless we make our society healthier. The time has come to fix our politics so we can reboot the health of the nation. Our leaders should recognise the public do support measures to tackle smoking, obesity, heart disease and other chronic illnesses and address junk food, and dirty air, to support healthy communities and to engage people in their own health.”

At the iHV, we support the recommendations in the report for a Covenant for Health – a resilient cross-party commitment to build a healthier nation, and to develop partnerships for health with business, local authorities, and key charity groups.




The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Health and Wellbeing Alliance has launched an Inclusion Health Audit Tool to help voluntary sector organisations measure and improve their engagement with Inclusion Health groups.

Inclusion Health groups are the communities which experience the poorest health outcomes across a range of indicators, including self-reported health, life expectancy and morbidity. Among these communities are four of the groups most vulnerable groups to health inequalities: sex workers, vulnerable migrants, homeless people and Gypsies and Travellers.

The audit tool diagnoses gaps in your organisation’s policy and action in working to tackle health inequalities and creates a unique guide which will help you to embed action on tackling health inequalities into your everyday activities. The online tool consists of five sections and takes around 15 minutes to complete.

Examples and interventions that are recommended at population, community and individual level to improve dental health for children.

Oral health is part of general health and wellbeing and contributes to the development of a healthy child and school readiness. Tooth decay is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people in England, yet it is largely preventable.

Public Health England (PHE) has been working with Health Education England (HEE) to produce a new e-Learning for Health programme on community-centred approaches to health improvement.

These two new e-learning modules are suitable for practitioners, managers and commissioners who want:

  • an update on evidence and guidance on community-centred approaches to health improvement;
  • to take a more strategic and planned approach to scaling-up community-centred approaches.

Communities matter for health. A community where people are well connected, are inclusive and respectful of all and are involved in local decision-making, are healthy communities. Improving population health and reducing health inequalities requires us to address these community factors and work with and alongside community members to improve the things that matter for their health.

The e-learning modules are based on PHE’s guide to community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing and support PHE’s growing programme of work on community-centred and asset-based approaches.

  • Module 1 covers the evidence and theory on why and how communities matter for health and what approaches work.
  • Module 2 involves practical exercises to apply the knowledge to practice and to help develop strategic and practical plans for taking community-centred approaches forward within local places and organisations.

Accessing this e-learning  is through the e-LfH portal (you will need your NMC Pin to register). Please note the iHV does not host the e-LfH site. If you experience any problems accessing the site, contact e-LfH.

This report from the Local Government Association (LGA), produced in partnership with Public Health England, highlights the specific needs and challenges for health and care provision in rural communities. The report includes case studies showcasing the ways in which local authorities in England are tackling health inequalities, improving access to services and building up community resilience.

We are delighted to share the announcement of the launch of the Child Health Alliance, which brings together key system leaders from children’s health, parents, young people and the voluntary and community sector – and includes iHV executive director, Dr Cheryll Adams CBE.

Child Health Alliance

Child Health Alliance

The Alliance is made possible through funding from the Department of Health and the support of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and is co-chaired by Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council For Disabled Children and Professor Ian Lewis. The Alliance will look at the current state of health services for children and young people in England, develop priorities, and identify key opportunities for improving children and young people’s health and wellbeing outcomes in England.

Whilst the UK has seen vast improvements to child and adolescent health over the last 30 years, a number of alarming statistics show that, comparatively, the UK is performing poorly on several measures of child health and wellbeing compared with other European countries.

Since the final report of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum, there has been an ongoing process of transformation in the health and social care system. There is a pressing concern amongst the child health community that the key messages from the forum have not been taken into account throughout this process, and the voice of children and young people have not been listened to.

We will keep you updated on the work of the Alliance and hope you will support us in our task of ensuring that child health is a priority for government and health system leaders going forward.

A #wellbeing approach networking event took place in Durham last Friday (30 September), as part of County Durham’s Joint Health and Wellbeing  strategy – where one of our iHV Fellows, Hilary Earl, secured a stand to promote health visiting as well as the iHV and her local Ready Steady Mums group.



Gill O’Neill, the interim director of public health in County Durham, made the opening remarks at the event that has been 2 years in the planning .

The event also coincided with the Macmillan fundraising week, which was well supported.

"Working together for Wellbeing" cake at County Durham Health and Wellbeing event

“Working together for Wellbeing” cake at County Durham Health and Wellbeing event

Attendees enjoyed several carousel-style workshops – learning about local health initiatives ranging from Health Trainers and Community Parents to Health Visitors and School nursing services.

With the focus on wellbeing, there were energising activities throughout the day for the delegates.


The iHV stand was well visited and the resources were popular.  Plus Hilary used the opportunity to promote their local Ready Steady Mums group in Spennymoor.

RSM Spennymoor poster at County Durham Health and Wellbeing event

RSM Spennymoor poster at County Durham Health and Wellbeing event

Hilary commented:

It was fabulous networking and a great example of excellent joint working with our commissoners.

New NHS Alliance, in partnership with The King’s Fund and commissioned by National Housing Federation, have launched a set of three reports that together aim to support a more productive relationship between the housing and health sectors.

Together, the three reports focus on the economic case for housing-led health interventions and are intended for specific audiences:

  • Health professionals’ attitudes to evidence and the influence it has on decision making is intended to help the housing sector to better understand some of the complexities around how the health sector uses evidence to inform decisions.
  • Developing a business case for health – what does good look like? provides some pointers to help housing organisations to make and present a strong business case to their health partners.
  • The economics of housing and health is principally for health professionals – it makes an economic case for a range of ways in which housing organisations support the work of the health sector and impact on the nation’s health.

The reports are co-authored by Merron Simpson, chief executive of New NHS Alliance, David Buck, senior fellow in public health and health inequalities at The King’s Fund, and Shilpa Ross, senior researcher at The King’s Fund.

These documents were launched on Tuesday 20 September at the NHF conference on housing and health in Birmingham.