Delegates told of ‘savage’ cuts to services

22 October 2018

Cuts made to health visitors, school nurses and community nursery nurses were described as ‘savage’ and ‘another betrayal of our children’ by shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth at the Unite/CPHVA conference last week.


Jonathan revealed the latest evidence that shows the number of NHS health visitors has been cut by 8% over the past year, while school nurses have been slashed by nearly 25% since May 2010.

Unite said that the figures were ‘a serious wake-up call’ for renewed investment in the professions. 
Sarah Carpenter, Unite’s national officer for health, said: ‘There has been a sorry decline in numbers since the health visitor implementation plan ended in 2015 and this has been compounded by local authorities taking over the public health agenda. And, as we know, some cash-strapped councils in England view ‘public health’ as a target for cuts, because of the dramatic axing of funding by the Tory government since 2010.
‘We know that a robust early years’ programme for babies and children improves the life chances later on as they move through the teenage years into adulthood – it is time that the government heard that message once more and acted on it in terms of committing additional resources.’
Sarah added that Unite/CPHVA has always argued that investment in health visiting and community nursing pays large dividends in the long-term by detecting problems, such as post-natal depression, and cases of abuse and neglect, at an early stage.

At the conference, which took place in Bournemouth on 17-18 October, Jonathan also reiterated Labour’s pledge for an additional mandated health visit at three to four months, and bringing back the training bursary.