Health Visitors (England)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 23rd October 2019.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham 4:30 pm, 23rd October 2019

If the hon. Lady is patient, I will come on to the social impacts. I think the MMHA report came out in 2014 or 2015, so obviously things will have moved on, although the birth rate has slightly fallen in that time as well. These are substantial financial figures, but as she says, most important are the social impacts and the impact on the child.

On the physical impacts, our childhood obesity rates are among the worst in Europe, while breastfeeding rates in the United Kingdom are one of the lowest in the world. We have rising emergency department attendances by children under the age of five, and infant mortality reductions have recently stalled. Just last week, we had the worrying figures about the dwindling vaccination rates in England in particular, with only 86.4% of children having received a full dose of the MMR vaccine. We have effectively lost our immune status, because the World Health Organisation vaccination target to protect a population from a disease is 95%.

The Children’s Commissioner estimates that, in total, 2.3 million children live with risk because of a vulnerable family background, but that, within that group, more than a third are effectively invisible and not known to services and therefore do not get any support. We are talking about an expensive and widespread problem.