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Survey confirms ‘postcode lottery‘ of support for children and families

The Institute of Health Visiting has published findings from its annual survey capturing the experiences of frontline health visiting practitioners working with families across the UK.

The report, titled ‘The state of health visiting 2021: we need more health visitors’ confirms that whilst the needs of babies, young children and families are increasing, there are not enough health visitors to meet these rising levels of need, and families are experiencing an ongoing postcode lottery of support.

It tells the story of escalating numbers of families facing poverty and adversity, and due to successive years of cuts to the health visiting service in England, many families have been without access to the early help that can make a big difference.

The report identifies a national shortage of around 5,000 health visitors in England with services in some areas so stretched that 42% of health visitors are worried that they can’t do enough to safeguard vulnerable babies and young children.

Alison Morton, Executive Director at the Institute of Health Visiting, said

“Our survey findings this year paint a picture of a health visiting service under pressure due to the impacts of the pandemic which affect the most disadvantaged families the most and increase the demand for health visiting support.

“In many areas, despite health visitors’ best efforts, the service is now so stretched that they can only reach the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of need and vulnerable babies, young children and their families are being let down.”

Read the full report here