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New analysis of NHS data has revealed that the number of health visitors in England has slumped by about a third over the last four years.
As of July this year, there were 6,931 full-time equivalent health visitors in England, marking a drop of 3,378 since the peak of 10,309 in October 2015, at the end of the national health visitor programme set up by the coalition government in 2011 to boost numbers.
The analysis by the Labour Party claims that the coalition’s programme said health visitors were crucial to ensuring families got off to the best possible start, going into homes before and after births to help, reassure and pick up problems.
Labour says its analysis of NHS England data shows that the number of women who did not get a visit at 28 weeks or more of pregnancy increased by more than 6,000 between 2017-18 and 2018-19. New birth visits were delayed – 11 per cent nationally did not take place within the first 14 days. Across England, 15 per cent of babies missed out on their six- to eight-week review last year, rising to 29 per cent in London. More than 23 per cent of children did not get their one-year review within the first 12 months of life, rising to 39 per cent in London.
Labour has promised to introduce a further mandated health visit at about three to four months after birth.