Following yesterday’s launch by the Labour Party of their “Health Mission” in Manchester, the party has published its Child Health Action Plan. Labour’s ambition is for this to be the healthiest generation of children ever.

Labour’s Child Health Action Plan to:

  1. Cut waiting lists for children
  2. End the crisis in child mental health
  3. Transform NHS dentistry
  4. Crackdown on smoking and vaping
  5. Ban junk food advertising to children
  6. Introduce breakfast clubs for all primary school children
  7. Protect children from the growth of infectious diseases
    This includes delivering on the NHS workforce plan, training more health visitors so parents and babies get the best possible support. Plus reforming the service to allow health visitors to administer routine immunisations to vulnerable and at-risk children, ensuring more are protected from infectious diseases.

Alison Morton, iHV CEO, responded to the Labour Party’s Child Health Action Plan:

“We are delighted to see that the Labour Party is pushing ahead with their plans to grow the health visitor workforce in their Child Health Action Plan. This will build capacity in the service to tackle a wide range of inequalities in child health, as well as supporting families to access healthcare – for example, to improve immunisation uptake for families who do not currently experience easy access to services (and consequently often experience the worst health outcomes), reduce pressures on A&E departments for minor illnesses, and improve oral health. These have always been part of the role of health visitors but have fallen by the wayside in many areas, as services have been reduced to “firefighting” and child protection due to serious workforce shortages.

“If we’re serious about improving the health of our nation’s children, it is imperative that health visitors get back to their core “health” function, working with families to prevent, identify and treat problems before they reach crisis point.”

At the iHV, we have been working with all political parties and government officials to ensure that the health of our nation’s babies and young children is taken seriously. We have shared our Vision for health visiting and call for more health visitors as an important part of the solution to tackling the current poor state of child health and widening inequalities. We will continue in our efforts to influence policies affecting health as all parties set out their manifesto plans for child health ahead of a general election expected this year.

We’re delighted to see yesterday’s cross-party support for the early years published in the Early Years Commission: A cross-party manifesto – #EarlyYearsManifesto. Yet more evidence for the case for investment.

Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, who provided evidence on health visiting as a witness to the commission commented:

“The importance of getting it right for every child cannot be over-emphasised. I am delighted to see such strong cross-party agreements and a cross-departmental commitment to prioritise the earliest years of life set out so clearly in this report. The commission has highlighted the importance of tackling the root causes of siloed working alongside the benefits of investing early, rather than ‘firefighting’ and tackling emergencies. With so much attention on the early years at the moment, action to start to put this right cannot come soon enough”.

The manifesto outlines how our country must give every child the best start in life, and right now we are falling short. Despite improvements among some children, too many continue to fall behind in their first few years, particularly those living in poverty. Many are not ready to learn by the age of five and struggle with their health and wellbeing, leading to damaging long-term consequences. It is this reality which obstructs our country’s path to a more prosperous future. We will never truly level up if we don’t recognise this. There are steps we can take now to help those children, even though they and we may not realise the benefits for decades.

It is good to see health visitors mentioned as a key workforce that requires strengthening in order to achieve these ambitions.

Through their Cross-party Manifesto, The Early Years Commission calls on central and local government, community organisations, the private sector, parents, and society as a whole to come together to achieve this goal.

The Institute welcomes the pledge made in the Labour Party Manifesto to increase the number of health visitors and school nurses by 4800 and hopes that the other parties’ manifestos will contain similar commitments.

Children in the UK have some of the worst outcomes when compared to the rest of Europe and similar countries across the world.  Its time for all political parties to take this seriously.  The Institute has published “Health Visiting in England: A Vision for the future” which sets out how a robust health visiting service can provide an important part of the solution for children and also help the delivery of many of the usual government targets.

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) has written an open letter which challenges the main political parties in England to commit to important manifesto pledges for children which it hopes to see from the next government.

Children in the UK have some of the worst outcomes when compared with the rest of Europe and similar countries in the world. It’s time for solutions, our children cannot wait any longer.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, said: “The outcomes from disinvestment in preventative services for children are increasingly stark.  In the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children’.  There is no doubt that England needs to do much much better. Children are our future, get it right in the early years and all of society benefits.”

Now is the time for solutions:

A few weeks ago the Institute published “Health Visiting in England: A Vision for the future” which sets out how a robust health visiting service provides an important part of the solution to a multitude of government priorities, with 18 recommendations.

Of these, the three most urgent requests are:

  1. Local authorities need to receive urgent and ring-fenced public health investment to cancel planned cuts to the health visiting profession this year and next.
  2. A review of 0-5 public health funding is needed with a new mechanism for sustainable funding in England. A shift in emphasis in language and policy is needed, from “releasing efficiencies”/ short-term return on investment in 0-5 public health, to a recognition by government that investment in prevention and early intervention in the early years is a sound investment in our children’s and society’s futures.
  3. Urgent action is needed to rebuild the health visiting workforce, training 5000 health visitors is estimated to cost £137million. The public health grant would then need an uplift of £240million to cover these substantive posts. These costs are relatively insignificant against the cost of not intervening as set out in our Vision.

Read iHV’s letter to the political parties

Follow and support #FutureofHV on social media


We are delighted to share the National Children’s Bureau’s Manifesto for a Better Childhood .

It’s a very comprehensive document making a call to the next government in all the necessary areas for children – including a call to: Invest in a world-class health visiting service for new parents, so all families can build a trusting relationship with their health visitor.


The New NHS Alliance (NNHSA) has set out their vision and road map for Health Creation in a ground-breaking Manifesto, which sets out 10 high impact recommendations to create a wellness-based health system, aimed at tackling the continuing problem and social injustice of health inequalities.

The Manifesto explains what Health Creation is, contains many stories of health creation and explains how practices can change to become health creating. It calls for

  • The adoption of health creating practices
  • System reforms to support health creation
  • Enhanced education on health creation

It contains the 3 Cs of health creation- Control, Contact, Confidence – (which complement the nurses’ 6 Cs), 5 health creating practices and 10 High Impact Recommendations for a health creating health system.

The Alliance has established a social movement for health creation, called Active Alliance and they are extremely happy to work alongside other organisations working on wellness.

Heather Henry, Chair of the New NHS Alliance, is very willing to speak at events, write and discuss at relevant meetings.

Please tweet about this using the hashtag #HealthCreation


The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) welcomes the cross-party manifesto that highlights the importance of acting early to enhance the outcomes for children. The relaunch of the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto, on Monday 14 December, brings the importance of early years care for children to the forefront of politics ahead of a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday.

The relaunch of this key policy commitment is to achieve better perinatal mental health and stronger attachment between babies and their parents right from the start. The ‘1001 Critical Days Manifesto’ was originally launched in the last Parliament to persuade all political parties to incorporate these measures into their election manifestos.

Dr Cheryll Adams, Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said: “The Institute of Health Visiting is delighted to endorse the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto. As far as health visitors are concerned, the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto may yet prove to be one of the most important developments of the new millennium. It has created a long overdue focus on the essential first days of life when the blue print for an individual’s future health and wellbeing is laid down. Hence, this period also determines the future health of our society. If we are to manage many of society’s physical, social and emotional health challenges efficiently and effectively, health visitors know that we must start in the first 1001 critical days of life. The fact that government now knows that too will drive health improvements in our society.”

Relaunch of 1001 Critical Days Manifesto

Relaunch of 1001 Critical Days Manifesto

Relaunch of 1001 Critical Days

Relaunch of 1001 Critical Days