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Fall in school nurse and health visitor numbers is a betrayal of children, says Labour

Government is turning a blind eye to role of early intervention, claims shadow health minister

Government is turning a blind eye to role of early intervention, claims shadow health minister


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Cuts to school nurse and health visitor numbers is a ‘betrayal’ of children, Labour claims.

The number of school nurses in England has fallen by almost a quarter since 2010, according to the party's analysis of NHS Workforce data.

Labour estimates there was a 24.7% fall in school nurse numbers between May 2010 (2,987) and June this year (2,248).

Early intervention is critical

The analysis of the data also revealed cuts to health visiting. In June 2017, there were 8,588 health visitors compared to 7,910 in June this year.

In a speech to the Unite/Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association conference in Bournemouth, Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘We know early intervention is critical in a child's development, a fact this government is blatantly turning a blind eye to.

‘Savage cuts to health visitors, school nurses and community nursery nurses is another betrayal of our children.’

‘If health visitors and school nurses are not available when needed, families may be more likely to book a GP appointment or visit the ED'

Sue Warner, health visitor

RCN council member and health visitor Sue Warner said the dwindling workforce was leaving children without the support and care they need.

‘If health visitors and school nurses are not available when they're needed, families may be more likely to book a GP appointment or visit emergency departments when they don't need to, putting more pressure on these overstretched services,’ she said.

Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter described Labour's findings as a 'serious wake-up call'.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Every child is offered five mandated health visitor checks before they are two and a half, and further support is provided as children grow up.

‘Improving the health of our children will be pivotal in our long-term plan for the NHS, which we're backing with additional funding of an extra £20.5 billion a year by 2023/24.’


Related material

NHS Workforce Statistics – June 2018


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