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Health visitor numbers lowest ever, says Labour Party

Although the picture is not straightforward, Labour says its analysis of NHS figures shows the number of health visitors in England is the lowest on record
Picture shows a health visitor with a mother and baby. Health visitor numbers in England are the lowest on record, according to an analysis of NHS data by the Labour Party.

Although the picture is not straightforward, Labour says its analysis of NHS figures shows the number of health visitors in England is the lowest on record

Health visitor numbers in England are the lowest on record, according to an analysis of NHS data by the Labour Party.

As of July this year there were 6,931 full time equivalent health visitors working in the NHS in England, a drop of 3,378 from the peak of 10,309 in October 2015, at the end of the national Health Visitor Programme set up by the coalition government in 2011 to boost numbers.

Although the picture is not straightforward, Labour says its analysis of NHS figures shows the number of health visitors in England is the lowest on record

Picture shows a health visitor with a mother and baby. Health visitor numbers in England are the lowest on record, according to an analysis of NHS data by the Labour Party.
Picture: iStock

Health visitor numbers in England are the lowest on record, according to an analysis of NHS data by the Labour Party.

As of July this year there were 6,931 full time equivalent health visitors working in the NHS in England, a drop of 3,378 from the peak of 10,309 in October 2015, at the end of the national Health Visitor Programme set up by the coalition government in 2011 to boost numbers.

Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘The Conservatives used to boast of their commitment to increase the number of health visitors, yet we have actually seen health visitors in the NHS cut by one third in over three years, with patchy provision of visits regionally.’

However, health visitors are increasingly working for different providers such as private companies and charities, so the picture is not necessarily straightforward.

Knock-on effect in terms of rising caseloads

RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said: ‘These worrying figures present a real threat to the ability of the workforce to provide a safe and effective service.

‘Any reduction in health visitor numbers has a knock-on effect in terms of rising caseloads and undermines the critical work on prevention and early intervention for children and families.

‘We are clear that legislation is needed in England to introduce clear roles and responsibilities for government and the system to ensure there are enough health visitors and other specialist nurses, and that staffing levels in all health and care services are safe.’

The Institute of Health Visiting recommends a maximum caseload of 250 children, fewer in areas of high need, but says health visitors in some areas are now accountable for caseloads of over 750 children.

The Conservative Party was contacted for comment.


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NHS Workforce Statistics – July 2019


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