This is your last chance to complete a short survey to influence the future of the public health workforce!

Survey closes midday tomorrow (12 Jan).

It is a crucial time for public health right now and the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is calling for public health practitioners to take part in a very short survey to represent their views to help influence the future of the public health workforce.

The survey provides a fantastic opportunity for health visitors to highlight the challenges they are facing within their workforce and identify what solutions are needed. The survey focuses specifically on recruitment, retention and training.

Although the survey does not ask about individual public health professions and is quite broad in its approach, there is space to free text and expand on your thoughts so you can be specific about health visiting within these areas.

Your feedback will be used to help influence the RSPH’s submission to the Health and Care Committee’s inquiry into the future of the public health workforce.

It only takes about 10 minutes to complete the survey, so make yourself a cuppa and make sure your views are heard!

The survey closes at midday on Wednesday 12 January 2022.

A new report published today (13 September 2019) outlines a raft of measures aimed at overhauling the after-school street environment for children in the UK. Routing Out Childhood Obesity, a report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), found that despite wider efforts to support kids’ healthy eating in school and at home, the world they experience between the school gates and the front door can still have a disproportionate effect on diet and lifestyle.


With nine children in every year 6 class overweight or obese, childhood obesity in the UK poses a serious, yet fixable, public health challenge. Backed up by widespread public support, this report identifies four key aspects of the street environment that should be disrupted to give children a healthier route home from school:

  1. Addressing the junk food offer around schools – including
    • using a mixture of licensing and planning tools to ban unhealthy fast food outlets (FFOs) from within a 5-minute walk of school gates (backed by 65% of the public);
    • ending discounts targeted at school children (backed by 80%);
    • ending app-based food delivery services to school gates (backed by 80%).
  2. Building better places to go – including better quality parks with teen use in mind, and physical signage outside schools directing kids to their nearest park.
  3. Transforming active travel – including a radical upgrade to cycling and walking infrastructure for young people, and scrapping burdensome regulations on lighting for zebra crossings, to allow many more ‘European-style’ crossings to be painted on our streets at low cost.
  4. Limiting the reach of junk food adverts – including banning the advertising of unhealthy food products across all council-owned advertising sites (backed by 80% of the public).

The full report and recommendations are based on research done in partnership with urban health foundation Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, which included mapping the street environments of Lambeth and Southwark to gauge their impact on childhood obesity, and a series of interviews and focus groups with school children from the boroughs.

The full report can be accessed here, and a short film exploring the opinions of school children on the after-school environment can be accessed here.

During #WorldBreastfeedingWeek, the iHV is delighted to publish a report from its well-regarded breastfeeding conference held in April with the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) and Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

The Breastfeeding: A Public Health Priority report gives a conference summary and implications for Public Health.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, said:

“This highly successful breastfeeding conference included, as speakers, some of the leading researchers in the field, as well as a range of successful local initiatives. We are delighted to be sharing a report from the day.”

Dr Cheryll Adams opening the breastfeeding conference

Please note that these resources are available to iHV members only – if you’re not a member, please join us to get access to all of our resources.

The iHV is a self-funding charity – we can only be successful in our mission to strengthen health visiting practice if the health visiting profession and its supporters join us on our journey. We rely on our membership to develop new resources for our members.


Dr Cheryll Adams opening the breastfeeding conference

What an amazing day we had at the breastfeeding conference, held on Thursday 19 April 2018 in London!  Lots of great information shared and we’ve received some fab feedback from #breastfeeding2018.  Breastfeeding: a public health priority was joint hosted with the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) and supported by the World’s Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi).

Professor Russell Viner, RCPCH, addressing the conference

Professor Viv Bennett addressing the conference.

A huge thank you to all the exceptional speakers – it was a very dynamic day with masses of learning and collaboration.

In addition, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, announced a pledge to introduce an additional mandated health visit at 3-4 months, as part of Labour’s commitment to making Britain’s children the healthiest in the world. See our previous news story on this.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health addressing the breastfeeding conference

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health addressing the breastfeeding conference


For those of you who could not either join us on the day or could not follow the #breastfeeding2018 hashtag on Twitter, we’ve collected and made a little “Storify” of the tweets so you can follow some of what was shared.

Families need joined up and integrated breastfeeding support services throughout their whole feeding journey, according to experts speaking at a conference hosted by the Institute of Health Visiting, Royal Society for Public Health and the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK (WBTi) at the Royal Society for Public Health on 19 April.

However, a new survey by the Institute of almost 800 health visitors found that in the past 2 years 28% reported that their ability to support breastfeeding mothers had decreased, and 28% weren’t confident that other members of their teams, nursery nurses or peer supporters would be able to support mothers when they couldn’t.  This will be in part due to the fact that:

  • 50% of those surveyed reported recent cuts to breastfeeding support groups;
  • 54% reported cuts to breastfeeding support specialist services; and
  • 51% reported cuts to peer support programmes.

When asked what the health visitors felt were the most common reasons why mothers stop breastfeeding before they plan to, of the HVs surveyed:

  • 64% reported it was due to the attitudes amongst people around the breastfeeding mothers;
  • 58% felt that another issue was a lack of professional support;
  • 57% that breastfeeding doesn’t have a high enough national profile;
  • 44% that there is a lack of motivation to continue; and
  • 34% felt there is a lack of partner support.

These issues and more will be explored at this national conference (Breastfeeding: a public health priority) with speakers including: Dr Russell Viner (President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) and Dr Natalie Shenker from the Hearts Milk Bank. Professor Amy Brown from Swansea University will also be presenting her latest research on the impact of breastfeeding on maternal mental health.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“Once again we quantify the devastating effects of the cuts to public health budgets which started in 2015. We know that this situation will worsen up until 2020.  Such cuts are so counterproductive to the public’s health.

“Giving every baby the best possible start in life has many benefits for their health throughout the life course.  Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial, as a protective factor for an individual’s future health.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH, said:

“Making sure all families have access to the support they need during the critical early stages of a child’s life is an urgent health inequalities issue, yet ongoing cuts to public health budgets are hampering the capacity of health visitors to deliver that support and undermining the public’s health.

“The numerous and well-documented health benefits of breastfeeding, including its role in combatting childhood obesity, mean it is critically important that we strive to improve stubbornly low breastfeeding rates across the UK.

“Breastfeeding can be challenging for many mothers and we must ensure we are proactively working to cultivate an environment and culture where all breastfeeding mothers are fully supported in their communities.”

The WBTi UK report (2016) incorporates the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly standards and recommends:

Integrated services in the community should include:

  • basic health professional training
  • additional social and peer support including the voluntary sector
  • access to specialist lactation support for complex cases
  • Baby Friendly Initiative accredited community settings such as Children’s Centres

Clare Meynell, WBTi Joint Coordinator, said:

“We see health visitors as being the lynchpin of such community support.  However, many mothers need more time and practical “one to one guidance” to get breastfeeding off to a good start.  Every health visiting area should also have an associated trained peer support system to support new mothers through the common ups and downs of life with a new baby.

“In addition, some mothers with complex circumstances will require an access pathway to specialist support, such as a lactation consultant.

“Future families need a warm chain of support services with skilled guidance to support their feeding journey from start to finish. That means all the way through pregnancy, birth, home from hospital, in the community and back to work. All of us have a responsibility to ensure the chain remains unbroken with a wide range of support in place for mothers and babies.”

According to calculations in the Lancet and research by UNICEF UK, stronger integrated breastfeeding support could actually save the NHS over £48 million a year, and result in a boost of billions to the UK economy in increased cognitive ability across the whole population.

Breastfeeding is a public health priority, and an investment in every child’s future. It is essential that effective support services and skills are commissioned and well integrated into existing services, to avoid families falling through the gaps.

Breastfeeding: a public health priority conference takes place in London on 19 April – for more information

Follow the day’s proceedings on Twitter and hashtag #breastfeeding2018

New programme reinforces the importance of the profession in the face of government cuts

The vital role that health visitors play in children’s health outcomes has been reinforced by a news-style report programme.

The programme was developed by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) in collaboration with a partnership between the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and ITN Productions.

It details the breadth of challenges health visitors respond to and the skill required to do so. These include supporting families facing issues ranging from poverty and housing to domestic violence and postnatal depression. Health visitors’ key role is to ensure every child receives the best possible start in life.

Introduced by national newsreader, Natasha Kaplinsky, the programme forms part of ‘The Public’s Health Across The Life Course’ series, coordinated by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and produced by ITN Productions. The series brings to life the journey from cradle to grave and the key public health professionals who make a difference in that period.

The iHV’s programme’s release comes at a crucial time. Health visiting numbers have fallen significantly in England in the last two years, as a result of cuts to public health budgets. This has triggered a restructuring of children’s services by local authorities.

iHV’s executive director, Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, said:

“Through making this programme, we want to raise awareness of the consequences of the on-going cuts to health visitor numbers in England – and the impact on children and families. Health visitors are a critical cog in each child’s journey to adulthood and work to improve public health outcomes for all children, helping to reduce health inequalities across the UK.

“The iHV was delighted to work with the Royal Society of Public Health and ITN Productions partnership to produce such an important programme which visually demonstrates the vital role and impact of health visitors.”

She added:

“Children’s needs seem to have become invisible among the many competing demands being made on the government and the NHS. We want ministers and commissioners to understand that we cannot afford not to invest in our children’s health. They are our future!

“I want to thank Whittington Health and Haringey Children’s Community Service for their support in making this film and all the health visitors and parents who made it possible.”

The iHV welcomes and supports the call from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Young Health Movement (YHM) for action by the next UK Government and social media companies to help promote the positive aspects of social media for young people.

The RSPH and YHM have today (19 May 2017) published a report examining the positive and negative effects of social media on young people’s health; including a league table of social media platforms according to their impact on young people’s mental health. YouTube tops the table as the most positive, with Instagram and Snapchat coming out as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Dr Cheryll Adams, executive director iHV commented:

With social media becoming ever more embedded in the lives of so many young people, evidence is showing that there may be potential harm to young people’s mental health and wellbeing from heavy use and it is important that some action is taken to protect them.

As these young people become the next generation of adults and, ultimately parents themselves, we need to better understand how best to shape and use the digital future to improve connections and communications and minimise any potential harms. There are many positive aspects of social media networking. However, with some social media platforms being very image-focused, this may drive feelings of anxiety and inadequacy which, in turn, may impact a young person’s mental health and wellbeing.

Through home visits, health visitors are well placed to give support and advice to parents and families on many aspects of growing up, and the importance of mental good health and wellbeing of all children, from babies through to the teenage years. This can include advising on the benefits and hazards of social media and over use of electronic devices.

RSPH and YHM are now calling for action from government and social media companies to help promote the positive aspects of social media for young people, whilst mitigating the potential negatives. The report’s recommendations include:

  • Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – seven in 10 (71%) young people surveyed by RSPH support this recommendation.
  • Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support – four in five (80%) young people support.
  • Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated – more than two-thirds (68%) of young people support.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) are highlighting the need for domestic violence and abuse (DVA) to be treated as a public health priority, at a conference on the issue being held today (Thursday 15 September 2016). The call comes as a survey of health visitors by the iHV reveals that more than two in five (42%) think services to support families affected by DVA in their area have got worse in the past two years, with less than a third (32%) say they had not got worse.

The iHV survey of health visitors in England also found:

  • Almost half (47%) of health visitors believe a challenged couple relationship between parents is impacting on their children in more than one in five (20%) of the families they work with.
  • Almost two thirds (62%) of health visitors say the families they work with affected by DVA are not empowered to do anything about the situation.

With the country having recently been gripped by the story of Helen Titchener in BBC Radio 4 soap The Archers, awareness of DVA in the UK is at an all-time high. Today’s conference will help policy makers and health professionals do more to support affected families and reduce the associated health and wellbeing risks for children.

If you couldn’t make the conference, follow the day’s proceedings on Twitter by using the hashtag #DVAconf16

The iHV and RSPH are delighted to announce a new one day conference on domestic violence and abuse – Domestic abuse – a public health priority for babies, children and families.

This conference will take place on Thursday 15 September 2016 at 28 Portland Place, London, W1B 1LY.

This conference will consider the latest evidence of the public health consequences from domestic violence and abuse and how intervening early can reduce risks to children’s health and social outcomes, and the burden of safeguarding work.

Domestic violence and abuse affects not only adults but also their children and has consequences for the community and for society. Reducing its effects and reach should be a major public health priority.

The conference will examine this hidden epidemic and consider the evidence for how it can be identified early, and who should be doing what to reduce its negative consequences.

Who should attend?

The programme is designed to be of value to policy makers, directors of public health, health visitors, GPs, midwives, local authority children’s service staff, those working in mental health and those commissioning these services.

Fees (no VAT payable)

  • RSPH/iHV Members £135 (early bird £115)
  • Public sector and charities £175 (early bird £150)
  • Private sector (Non-Members) £235 (early bird £211)

Book before 15 August 15 2016 to get early bird rates on all fees.  Places are limited and on a first come, first served basis.

For any enquries please call Jess Davies on 020 7265 7314 or email [email protected]

The awards recognise and celebrate a wide range of activities, policies and strategies that empower communities and individuals, improve the population’s health and address the wider social determinants of health.
There are six categories representing the breadth and reach of public health projects and programmes:

  • Arts & Health Award
  • Community Health Development Award
  • Healthier Lifestyles Award
  • Public Mental Health & Wellbeing Award
  • Technology Health & Innovation Award
  • Workplace Health & Wellbeing Award

The deadline for returning your completed application form and all supporting evidence is 12pm Tuesday 31 May 2016.