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Health visitors tell parliamentary candidates to ring-fence public health

Health visitors and school nurses are holding a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 26 April to call for the ring-fencing of public health budgets.
Obi_Amadi

Health visitors and school nurses are holding a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 26 April to call for the ring-fencing of public health budgets.

Around 100 community nurses, all members of Unite, were due to lobby MPs to generate support for public health services for families and young children.

Because MPs are in their constituencies preparing for June’s general election, the nurses are drawing up a campaign checklist for prospective parliamentary candidates.

The nurses want the candidates to understand how public health services have changed since councils in England took them over from the NHS in 2015.

According to Unite’s Community and Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, workforce figures show that health visitor numbers have fallen by nearly 9% since the 2015 transfer of services.

The union’s lead professional

Health visitors and school nurses are holding a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 26 April to call for the ring-fencing of public health budgets.

Obi_Amadi
Unite’s lead professional officer Obi Amadi. Picture: Chris Woods

Around 100 community nurses, all members of Unite, were due to lobby MPs to generate support for public health services for families and young children.

Because MPs are in their constituencies preparing for June’s general election, the nurses are drawing up a campaign checklist for prospective parliamentary candidates.

The nurses want the candidates to understand how public health services have changed since councils in England took them over from the NHS in 2015.

According to Unite’s Community and Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, workforce figures show that health visitor numbers have fallen by nearly 9% since the 2015 transfer of services.   

The union’s lead professional officer Obi Amadi said: ‘We want to highlight that progress on health visitor numbers in recent years can’t be allowed to slide.

‘Otherwise it will be families with young children and babies who suffer.

Vital work

‘NHS health visitor numbers have been dropping almost consistently from month to month since October 2015, when the workforce was at its largest recorded size in more than a decade. 

‘The government needs to secure the future of community nursing by increasing and ring-fencing money for these public health professions, and for the vital work they carry out with families on a daily basis.’

According to the latest provisional workforce statistics from NHS Digital for 2016, there are 9,410 health visitors compared with 10,309 the year before.

There are 2,561 whole-time equivalents in the school nurse workforce in the NHS, compared with 2,725 the year before. 

Wednesday’s meeting will be addressed by Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth.


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