Laura Sharman 07 December 2016

Health visitors warn budget cuts are putting safeguarding at risk

Health visitors warn budget cuts are putting safeguarding at risk image

Health visitors are struggling with unsafe workloads and concerns over safeguarding due to cuts in local authority health budgets, a new survey has warned today.

The State of Health Visiting survey 2016 found 85% of health visitors say their workload has increased over the past two years. Although the average caseload for safe practice should be 250, 16% of health visitors said they now have caseloads of between 500 and 1,000.

The Institute of Health Visiting said this is affecting services for new mothers and their babies, and is calling on the Government to reinvest in public health.

The survey found that only 70% of all families are receiving the mandated health visitor reviews at 6-8 weeks, one year and 2-2.5 year, and only 30% of all families receiving the antenatal visit.

Dr Cheryll Adams, executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said: ‘Our annual survey of the state of health visiting shows a radical downgrading of this public health asset, which serves the most formative period of children’s lives.

‘Health visitors should provide a universal service to every family in the country with a child under the age of five. This survey hence exposes the risks to all children and families from a decommissioning of health visitor posts, which it seems is just about to accelerate. The impact will not only be felt by children and families, there will be a knock-on effect on the NHS and other local authority services such as safeguarding services.’

Of those surveyed, 72% said they were concerned about providing inadequate safeguarding and child protection support.

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The power of local systems to save lives

Councils and their partners could do even more to contain the spread of COVID-19 if properly funded to undertake a robust localised system of testing, tracking and tracing, argues Professor Donna Hall.
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