Alison Morton, CEO iHV, joined Mishal Husain as a guest on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning to speak about the state of health visiting in England. The interview was set up in response to yesterday’s hard-hitting report from the Academy of Medical Sciences which was featured on their programme, highlighting a growing crisis across the early years – with wide ranging evidence of declining health that takes root from preconception through pregnancy to the first five years of life.

If you missed Alison’s interview, the news item on the Today programme starts at 53:36 with Mishal Husain summarising the findings from Sir Andrew Pollard’s report and its urgent call for the health of the under 5s to be addressed. Mishal questioned the role of health visitors in addressing some of these issues and asked Alison for her views on why so many families were missing out on this vital support:

Alison said:

“We just heard yesterday, Andrew Pollard’s report talks about how important it is to identify problems and treat them early….. We have a huge problem with the number of health visitors in England.

“All families in England should be entitled to see a health visitor from pregnancy to age of 5…We know many are missing out.

“Health visitors are supporting millions and millions of families every year, but we’ve had a 40% cut in our workforce over the last 9 years and now there aren’t enough health visitors to meet the scale of need. And sitting alongside the increased need that we heard about yesterday, we really should be investing in health visitors rather than cutting the service further.”

When asked if it was an England problem when comparing to the 11 health contacts that Scotland provides and that 9 that Wales provides, Alison commented:

“It’s hugely variable across all the UK nations, and also within England itself. So in some parts of the country, families are getting a pretty good level of support and in other areas families are getting virtually nothing.

“We know many children are not receiving the support that they need. And actually what that does is that it strips out the mechanism to identify problems early, to treat them before they reach crisis point. So, what we’re seeing is knock-on consequences into other services – we’ve heard about the soaring rates of A&E attendance… the under 1s are the highest users of A&E, and the rate has increased by 42% in the last 10 years in England. Whereas, in Scotland, they don’t have this problem, because they have intensive home visiting by health visitors who support families in the heart of the community.”

When asked about the 5 mandated visits in England, Alison commented:

“This is the bare minimum…. That is an opportunity to reach families. Health visitors’ USP is that they reach all families. They are the only service that proactively and systematically reaches families with babies and young children. This is vitally important because we know that babies are our most vulnerable citizens, at the highest risk of harm, and also, we know that the foundations of future health and wellbeing are laid in early childhood, so getting support early really makes a huge difference.”

  • Recording available for 29 days only from 6 February 2024
  • Listen to the full 4 minute interview with Alison Morton – starts at 53:36
  • Piece ends 57:45




To mark the 10th anniversary of the transfer of public health from primary care trusts to local government, the Local Government Association (LGA) interviewed key people closest to the reforms on what they think has worked well, what can be improved on, and learnings to take forward for the future – including iHV CEO, Alison Morton.

Some of the interviews that the LGA conducted were deliberately challenging and provocative. Some of them present a picture of what is already happening in local government, whereas some of them look to what more local and national government could do in the future, either with additional powers or by using their existing powers and remit.

In Alison’s interview, she says:

“The role of the health visitor is unique. There is no other service which sees every family before the age of five. That puts them in a position to make a difference to people’s lives. Health visitors could play a crucial role in addressing the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis, but only if they are properly funded to do so… we can do it – in fact we cannot afford not to.”

Health visiting was featured on BBC South West evening news on Friday 22 September!

The BBC Spotlight regional news broadcasted a feature on the difference that health visiting support makes to families with babies and young children, as well as highlighting the national postcode lottery that leaves some without the help that they need.

Woman in black top and blond hair speaking

Georgina Mayes, iHV Policy and Quality Lead, being interviewed on BBC South West

Georgina Mayes, iHV Policy and Quality Lead said:

“Thank you to BBC South West, the families, and Dorset Health Care University NHS Foundation Trust who supported this important news story. This piece showcases a local health visiting service in Dorset and highlights the positive difference that health visitors can make to families.

“The feature also highlights the national shortage of health visitors, resulting from cuts to the Public Health Grant. This is a national problem that is not isolated in any single local authority. The feature makes it clear that the shortage of health visitors is having a direct impact on families – there just aren’t enough health visitors to meet the scale of need.

“Whilst health visitors are supporting thousands and thousands of families every week, despite their best efforts many families across the country are still missing out. Health visitors are literally firefighting in some areas, prioritising the most vulnerable. This matters as it is eroding health visitors’ vital public health role to work with all families to prevent, identify and manage problems before they reach crisis point. At the iHV, we will continue to advocate for change and thank all of our partners for their support in making the case for health visiting.”

We would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Paula and Rich for sharing their personal story about how their health visitor made a difference to them and their baby, Emily. This news story would not have been possible without the tremendous support of Dorset Health Care University NHS Foundation Trust. Thank you to Sarah House (Health Visitor – Dorset Health Care University NHS Foundation Trust) for enabling Paula and Rich to tell their story and for showcasing the fantastic work that health visitors do each, and every day.

Video shared with kind permission from BBC South West.

The iHV is delighted to have been commissioned by the HEE London SCPHN Project to kick-start the development of a Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (SCPHN) recruitment pathway. This is the beginning of the Capital Nurse Programme for health visiting and school nursing services in London. The project will address the recruitment challenges of SCPHN training and inform a strengthened pathway to support nurses who are interested in becoming a SCPHN in London.


The latest national data in England show that health visitor workforce numbers in England have dropped by almost 40% since 2015. It is estimated that school nursing has also lost a similar proportion of its workforce. London has been one of the hardest hit areas and services are struggling to fill significant gaps in their SCPHN posts. Across London, services have also reported that they are struggling to recruit to student SCPHN places, which is exacerbating the problem.

How can I help?

If you are working in London and are:

  • a SCPHN HEI (university) programme lead
  • a SCPHN provider lead (including SCPHN practice educators/assessors/supervisors)
  • a student SCPHN health visitor/school nurse

Then we would love to hear from you!

You can help by completing our short survey. We are also looking for volunteers to join one of our focus groups . Places are filling up fast for our focus groups, so don’t delay – contact us today!

Dates available for focus groups:

  • Fri 17/2/23 9:30am – 10:30am (Student HV/SN)
  • Tue 21/2/23 9:30am – 10:30am (HEI leads and provider leads)
  • Mon 27/2/23 9:30am – 10:30am (HEI leads and provider leads)

*Please note we are also holding 1:1 Interviews but these are now fully booked. If you would like to be added to a waiting list should a place become available – let us know.

For information about this project or to register for a focus group, please email [email protected] and [email protected].

Your knowledge and experience really matter!

If you are unable to attend a focus group, don’t worry, you can still have your say through completing one of our surveys:

  • Survey 1: HEI and provider leads
  • Survey 2: Student SCPHN health visitors/school nurses

All answers are anonymous, and findings will be presented as aggregate data, so you can be honest about how things really are. Tell us what’s working well and what the challenges are that need to be addressed.

How do I complete a survey?

Please email [email protected] advising of your role and where you work and request a link for the survey. Please share the link for the survey with your colleagues in London who are:

  • HEI SCPHN programme leads
  • Provider leads
  • Student SCPHN health visitors/school nurses

What will be the key outputs of the project?

The key findings will be presented in a report with infographics highlighting key themes and recommendations for practice and the current pathway on how nurses find out about becoming a SCPHN in London.

We know that London is not isolated with the challenges they face, so our findings will be published and made available to other areas across the UK who will benefit from the shared learning of this project.

What are the benefits of being part of this project?

  • The study aims to add to the current knowledge on student SCPHN (HV/SN) recruitment – you may experience some benefits from the questioning and reflection, knowing that this is adding to the body of knowledge in London and may have wider system impact across the country.
  • Participating in a pan-London project which you can add to your personal CV and use for NMC revalidation.
  • The iHV will send all focus group and 1:1 interview participants an electronic certificate of participation. This will include a short statement of your contribution to this project.
  • All participants will be entered into a prize draw with the opportunity to win a free ticket to attend one of our prestigious iHV conferences.

We would like to say a huge thank you to those of you who have already responded to our call for help with this project. Please carry on spreading the word with your colleagues!

Together we can help create a clearer pathway and build a sustainable SCPHN workforce for London!


Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, joined Lee Thomas at BBC Radio Stoke this morning on an item which is part of a series on the impact of the pandemic on parents – with today’s session on new parents and health visiting.

podcast for BBC Radio Stoke







Alison said:

“It is so sad to hear these stories from those parents who have been seriously let down by a system which is under enormous pressure. And also the health visitors who have worked really, really hard through the pandemic to support thousands and thousands of families, but it hasn’t been enough.”

Alison stated that there are two main drivers for this situation in England: 1) that need has increased; and 2) the capacity of the service to respond has been stretched to the limit – with parents bearing the brunt of this.

“As many of the parents stated,  a lot of the health visiting services shifted to non-face-to-face, using video and telephone, but it is not the same as seeing someone face-to-face. The root of this can be traced to the beginning of the pandemic when the Government categorised health visiting as a partial stop service – there was a failure to recognise the health visitor’s vital role and the support that it offers to parents;  just being alongside parents.”

She also said that the current ‘sticking plasters are not good enough’ and we need a national plan to put it right for children now.

The news item on parents and the pandemic starts at 1:09:13 into the programme with parents providing their experiences, and Alison joins at 1:11:41 with the item ending at 1:19:33

Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, joined Jonny Dymond on BBC Radio 4’s World at One today to discuss the surge in new mothers and pregnant women seeking help for mental health problems in the lockdown.

The piece on perinatal mental health and health visiting begins with a mum, Amy, sharing her PMH concerns as a new mother and how it impacted her life during the pandemic – this starts at 32:18 into the programme. Alison joins at 35:53 to talk about the health visiting service and the role that health visitors play in providing support to new mothers. Jonny asked if the figures on perinatal mental illness that Radio 4 World at One have become aware of reflect what health visitors are seeing. Alison shared that before the pandemic 20-25% of women and some men had perinatal mental health needs and that the pandemic has made the situation much worse, with rates reportedly doubling. Alison speaks about the vital role that health visitors play supporting families and the difference that getting support early can make.

Alison also shares the challenges that the health visiting service in England faces. In particular, she shares how the needs of women and babies have been largely overlooked in the pandemic response and the impact that this has had on families. With widespread recognition that many women do not find it easy to speak out about how they are feeling, and against a backdrop of 31% cuts to the health visiting workforce since 2015, Alison highlights how these cuts reduce the amount of time that HVs can spend with families. She commented that health visitors come into  the profession wanting to support babies and families – to give babies the best start in life! When challenged about whether families have been let down, Alison agrees that the sector has been under enormous pressure, but defended the profession by saying, “I can tell you categorically that  health visitors did the very best job they could under immensely challenging circumstances!”

  • Recording available for 29 days only from 30 July
  • PMH piece starts at 32:18
  • Alison Morton starts at 35:53
  • Piece ends 39:19


NHS Business Services Authority is working with on a Department of Health & Social Care project to improve the Healthy Start scheme and is looking for some health visitors to interview about their role and experience.

Healthy Start provides vouchers for pregnant women, children, parents and families in receipt of qualifying benefits to buy fruit, veg, milk and vitamins. The scheme currently uses paper-based vouchers, however they intend to trial the use of prepaid cards and an online application process.

An important part of this project involves talking to healthcare professionals that help promote the scheme – so they are looking for some health visitors to interview. To do this they conduct telephone calls, which last around 30mins. The call is carried out by their researchers, it’s an informal chat to find out more about your role and your experience of promoting the Healthy Start scheme.

They are looking to do the research calls next week between  Monday 24 and Thursday 27 June. They are flexible on the day and times.

If you are able to help by taking part, simply email [email protected] with the details below:

  • Your availability (give day and preferred times)
  • Your role
  • How long you have been in your role?
  • Do you currently promote Healthy Start with the families you see?