Leading healthcare bodies call on government to halt reduction in health visitor numbers
The RCN has urged that funding for health visitors must be protected as latest workforce figures show hundreds fewer posts in recent months.
The RCN has urged that funding for health visitors must be protected as the latest workforce figures showed hundreds fewer posts in recent months.
In a letter to The Times published today, the RCN joined with the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Queen’s Nursing Institute and other national bodies to call on the government to protect ‘the fundamental contribution’ of health visitors in the UK.
The latest NHS Digital workforce figures showed the number of health visitors in England had fallen since the start of the year.
There were 433 fewer posts between March and April alone, from 10,144 to 9,711.
The RCN said anecdotal evidence suggested this was just the start of a significant reduction in the service due to local authority budget cuts.
It said health visitors were vital in preventing ill health and that cutting their numbers threatened the success of several government priorities, including tackling obesity in adults and children.
RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘The government needs to protect the funding for these vital services – the health of the nation is at stake.’
A government health visitor implementation, launched in 2011, provided funding to train more than 4,000 new health visitors but the letter warned that, should further positions be cut, this would be a wasted investment.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Health visitors are a vital part of the community care that the NHS provides – that is why we’ve funded, recruited and trained thousands more since 2010.’