Nurse leaders have issued a statement calling on the government to commit to a plan to increase the number of health visitors and school nurses.
The importance of long-term investment in school nursing and health visitors is laid out in the joint blog post from the School and Public Health Nurses Association, the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) and the Local Government Association.
“It is time for action to rebuild vital health visiting and school nursing”
Statement by nursing and local government leaders
In the statement, they said: “Health visitors and school nurses are vital health assets in our communities and schools.
“They play a key role in identifying needs, promoting and improving health, preventing illness and reducing inequalities – helping our children to thrive.
“At a time of increasing need and complexity, both professions are needed now more than ever.”
Cuts to the public health grant, reduced numbers of training places and retirement are reasons laid out in the statement explaining why there has been a decline in the number of people joining these key services.
The health leaders said that since 2010, it is estimated that there has been a 35% decline in the school nursing workforce.
They added that between 2015 and 2022, the health visiting workforce has decreased by almost 40%.
Meanwhile, a recent report from the iHV found that almost half of health visitors in England have said they intend to leave the profession in the next five years.
The statement added: “This is why we need the government to commit to an ambitious plan to increase the number of health visitors and school nurses.
“Our ultimate ambition is for every area to rebuild and regain the vital public health nursing services that have been lost over the last decade.”
The health leaders said that if the government committed to this, it would lead to better outcomes for babies, children, young people and families.
“Long-term investments in these key services can benefit children’s lives both now and into the future – through improving their school-readiness, attainment, resilience, and ultimately their employment prospects,” the statement said.
“Most importantly, the foundations for future ‘health’ are laid in the earliest years of life,” it added.
The statement was co-signed by Sharon White, chief executive of the School and Public Health Nurses Association; Alison Morton, executive director of the iHV; and David Fothergill, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.