The most important but often less glamorous health provision has been badly affected by the pandemic – the impact in relation to health visitors profiled by this story is prodigious. It tells us:
Overstretched health visitors have been forced to care for up to 2,400 families with newborns at a time, 10 times the recommended number, according to the sector’s most senior figure.
Prompting fears that breastfeeding rates will drop to new lows and a generation of babies could face a troubled future, Cheryll Adams, the chief executive of the Institute of Health Visiting, told the Guardian that as sickness and redeployment struck, some health visitors were having to care for thousands of families.
“In the last five years we have seen the number of health visitors cut by 30%, then during the pandemic, as many as 50% of staff were redeployed in some areas,” she said. “That was devastating for families and for health visitors who were put under immense pressure.”
One health visitor told Adams she was at one stage looking after 2,400 families, when 250 is considered to be a “safe” number.