Public health cuts ‘putting children’s health at risk’

“PLUMMETING” numbers of school nurses and health visitors due to cuts to local authorities’ public health budgets are putting children’s health at risk, a union has warned.

The Royal College of Nursing said that since transferring from the NHS to local authorities, the services have “borne the brunt” of the Government’s £200m cut to public health funding.

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

The union’s figures show the number of health visitors has fallen by 1,000 since 2015, when there were 10,000 in the NHS.

There has also been a 16% decline in full-time school nurses since 2010, despite the number of school age children increasing by more than 450,000 over the same period.

The RCN said health visitors and school nurses play an essential role in promoting health mental and physical development, safeguarding vulnerable children and providing a link between school, home and the community. It is calling on the next government to ensure all local authorities can provide “strong and effective” health visitor and school nursing services.

“There’s a wealth of evidence that ill health in childhood can have a detrimental impact in adulthood,” Davies said.

“If these cuts continue, we’re heading for more health problems, more inequality and even more pressure on our public services down the line.”