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Health visiting cutbacks to blame for health problems

Health inequalities highlighted in a report to the Health Select Committee are mirrored by severe cutbacks to the health visiting service, say Unite.

The union says health visiting staff numbers are at a 13-year low and the failure to train enough school nurses is only contributing to childhood obesity and mental health problems.

Unite says health problems have developed due to primary care trusts continuing with staff cutbacks despite recent government encouragement to employ more health visitors.

The Unite report said: "The advantage that every person in the country should be able to say they have a GP, every ante-natal mother has a midwife and every new family has a health visitor should not be understated or underestimated. These professionals really understand communities and those who live in them."

Unite say that the role of the health visitor should be protected by law, allowing only those qualified to undertake health visiting duties.

Unite told the MPs who are investigating: The Contribution of the NHS in Reducing Health Inequalities: "To invest in health visiting and hence early intervention could produce massive savings to other areas of government expenditure related to inequalities in the longer term."

Unite Head of Health, Kevin Coyne said: "We welcome the opportunity to put our case to the Select Committee. We have produced powerful evidence highlighting the present level of health inequalities, and the practical and positive steps as to how the situation could be improved dramatically in the next five years."


Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"I don't believe health problems should be blamed entirely on health service cuts. Having been a health visitor of many years the commitment to the health and care of children is no longer. The work is seen as a job rather than a commitment to advise and maintain the good health and education of families with young children" - Name and address supplied