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The Royal College of Nursing has stressed that the government needs to invest in specialist children's nurses or risk turning back the clock on children’s health in England.
The RCN Congress has heard calls for ministers to address the inequalities by reversing cuts seen to public health budgets in England, with a new report urging the government to ensure more health visitors and school nurses will be trained as numbers appear to fall further.
The Best Start: The Future of Children’s Health – One Year On reveals that the health visiting workforce continues to experience significant reductions, with NHS posts droping from 10,309 in October 2015 to 8,275 by January 2018. In school nursing, the number employed full-time by the NHS fell by 23 per cent between March 2010 and January 2018 – despite the number of school pupils rising to 8.7 million.
Janet Davies, RCN chief executive, said: “Children’s health services are the frontline defence against childhood obesity and poor child mental health. This downward trend cannot continue. The government risks turning back the clock on children’s health if it does not invest in the school nursing and health visitor workforce.”