Cuts to funding and service provision have a devastating impact on children and families.
Health visitors have warned that the Government is failing to take their concerns seriously follow a “disappointing” response to an online petition.
The petition, which now has more than 11,000 signatures, calls out further cuts to health visiting budgets explaining they are a “risk to babies, young children and their families.”
Calling for a commitment to funding, it reads; “Health visiting is intrinsic to supporting children’s wellbeing in their early years. Further cuts to the service will not only have a devastating impact on children and families today but will affect all of our futures. It is incomprehensible.
“Health visitors need to be delivering a service universally in order to identify those in need and offer support to families at the earliest opportunity. Government should give local authorities additional funding to ensure this can happen.
The Government’s response to this petition has been labelled a “whitewash” by many as it fails to take these concerns seriously and seeks to blame local authorities for issues with service provisions.
They said; “Since October 2015, local authorities have been responsible for the commissioning of public health services for zero to five-year olds, which includes health visiting services. This is because local authorities are best placed to make decisions for their communities based on local need.”
“Local delivery models vary, as services are tailored to meet local need. Guidance on the health visiting delivery model is provided to support local authorities’ decision-making on the commissioning and provision of public health support for children aged zero to 19.”
“We do not advocate a specific health visitor staffing number or case load. This is because it should be led by health needs of a population.”
Lesley Tarling, the health visitor in Hampshire who set up the petition, says: “I’d like to thank the Government for their response to our petition. However, it is disappointing that the core question in our petition remains unanswered.
“Funding cuts have inevitable consequences, health provision to the young will be irreparably affected. Health issues will be missed, and Adverse Childhood Experiences accentuated”.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth added; “Children’s health and well-being should be an absolute priority for ministers, especially after these last 18 months. Health visitors are central to making sure the health of every child matters,” he said.
“Instead, health visitor numbers have been cut and ministers have dismissed the concerns of those calling for health visitors to be given the backing and resources needed,” he added.