Nurse leaders are calling for funding for health visitors to be made a priority, following evidence that health visitors play an important role in the lives of children and families.
The Royal College of Nursing this week published: The RCN’s UK position on health visiting in the early years which sets out the evidence showing how health visitors can improve public health.
RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter says that health visitors can help parents throughout their child’s development and they make a massive contribution to managing the long-term effects of serious public health problems such as smoking, alcohol and obesity within families.
The report illustrates how health visitors can make a difference citing, for example, the cases of two health visitors in Falmouth who led changes in the community which contributed to a 70% decrease in postnatal depression.
“When health visitors can break some of the generational cycles of poor health and inequality, it is not a question of them being a cost to UK governments – we simply can’t afford not to make them a priority,” said Dr Carter.
The RCN is concerned that many health visitors report low morale and being overstretched and is urging Prime Minister David Cameron to maintain his pre-election promise to increase the number of health visitors by 4,200 and provide the highest levels of support to those in deprived areas.