I’m delighted my colleague shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has announced that Labour will introduce an additional health visit for new born babies at 12-16 weeks to offer mothers crucial additional support.
The pledge is part of Labour’s commitment in government to making Britain’s children the healthiest in the world and to tackling health inequalities through better early intervention services.
The evidence-based policy reflects research showing that new mothers are at substantial risk of perinatal mental health problems at around three months, and it is also a critical time in supporting continued breastfeeding.
Under the Tories, health visitor numbers and funding have tailed off as part of central government cuts to public health budgets spent by local authorities.
For instance, there were 8,244 full time equivalent health visitors working in the NHS as of December 2017 – a fall of more than 2,065 in just over two years and the lowest number since August 2013.
Cuts to health visitor numbers are now leading to huge variations in visits for children across the country and stalling health outcomes for babies and young children.
The future of health visiting services is at a critical point. An additional visit possible will help our children.