New parents still not being seen

26 July 2019

Around 25% of new parents are missing out on mandatory health visits, which may increase the risk of mental health issues, experts believe. 


In accordance with the Healthy Child Programme in England, families should be receiving five visits from a health visitor before a child turns two-and-a-half.

However, data from Public Health England (PHE) reveals that around one quarter of parents are missing out on this service by the age of one.

PHE 2018/19 preliminary figures show 77% of children received a 12-month review by the age of one. This compared with 75% for the previous year.

Cuts to local authorities and less health visitors are having an impact, says the NSPCC.
The charity found up to one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers battle mental-health problems in the perinatal period as symptoms go undetected.

The Health and Social Care committee has called on the government to set out proposals to increase the number of visits.

Unite-CPHVA recommends a maximum of one health visitor to every 250 children to ensure a safe service.

Unite lead professional officer, Jane Beach, says: ‘The 25% reduction in health visitors since the end of the HV Implementation Plan is devastating and as this shows is clearly having a negative impact on their ability to undertake the mandatory contacts and more.

‘Behind every missed contact is a child/parent with a potential health need that the health visitor could identify early and provide valuable support to. 

‘We are also seeing a reduction in the uptake of immunisations, and an increase in tooth decay - all areas where health visitors can have a positive impact. The government must act now to reverse these cuts, children and families deserve better.’

The NSPCC is now launching its ‘Fight For A Fair Start’ campaign to ensure parents receive all five visits.


Author: Nicole Bains


Image credit | iStock