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Children’s health put at risk as public health funding plummets, warns RCN

Cuts to crucial health services are jeopardising the health of England’s children and young people, according to the RCN
Health_Visitor

Cuts to crucial health services are jeopardising the health of Englands children and young people, according to the RCN.

As the number of health visitors falls, more children may be put at risk. Picture: Alamy

A new report, the Best Start: the Future of Childrens Health, shows how plummeting numbers of health visitors and school nurses, and cuts to public health funding, are putting childrens health at risk.

The number of health visitors has fallen by 1,000 since 2015, when there were more than 12,000. There was also a 16% drop in the number of full-time school nurses between 2010 and 2017, despite the number of school-age pupils increasing by 450,000 during the same period.

The RCN said health visitors and school nurses play an essential role in promoting healthy mental and physical development, safeguarding vulnerable children, and providing a critical link between school, home

Cuts to crucial health services are jeopardising the health of England’s children and young people, according to the RCN.

Health_Visitor
As the number of health visitors falls, more children may be put at risk. Picture: Alamy

A new report, the Best Start: the Future of Children’s Health, shows how plummeting numbers of health visitors and school nurses, and cuts to public health funding, are putting children’s health at risk.

The number of health visitors has fallen by 1,000 since 2015, when there were more than 12,000. There was also a 16% drop in the number of full-time school nurses between 2010 and 2017, despite the number of school-age pupils increasing by 450,000 during the same period.  

The RCN said health visitors and school nurses play an essential role in promoting healthy mental and physical development, safeguarding vulnerable children, and providing a critical link between school, home and the community.

But it warned that, since being transferred from the NHS to local authorities, services have borne the brunt of the government’s £200 million cuts to public health. As a result, many vulnerable children may be falling through the cracks.

The college said this drop in essential care jeopardises progress made since 2011, when the government launched the Health Implementation Plan. As a result, the RCN added, the Conservatives may not meet their commitment to transform the children’s public health workforce as part of the social justice agenda.

The RCN is calling on the next government to ensure all local authorities have the resources to provide effective health visiting and school nursing services for all children.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘Cuts to these critical services risk not only the health of our children, but also the future of our country.

‘There’s a wealth of evidence that ill health in childhood can have a detrimental impact in adulthood. If these cuts continue, we’re heading for more health problems, more inequality and even more pressure on our public services down the line.

‘Cuts are undermining previous progress. We’ve already seen 1,000 health visitors gone since 2015 and numbers continue to decline.’

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.


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