Public health budget cuts are putting children’s health at risk, a nursing union has warned. 

According to the Royal College of Nursing, the number of school nursing staff has dropped by 16 per cent, from 3,000 in 2010 to just over 2,500 today. While health visitor numbers have increased during the same period, the numbers are still down 1,000 on a 2015 high of more than 10,000. 

The union blames government budget cuts, saying they undermine a four-year plan, started in 2011, which aims to boost health visitor numbers in England. 

Funding for health services is provided by the Department for Health for councils across the UK, but it has been cut every year for the last three years. By 2020, it is expected annual funding will be 10 per cent lower than 2016.

"Lack of funding will limit the services available and put extra strain on those nurses who are remaining. This will only increase the level of health problems found in children, which could have been tackled early on with adequate services. The government must end these damaging cuts."

Madeleine Pinschof
senior medical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors

The union’s claims follow its warning that a pay cap is partly responsible for tens of thousands of unfilled posts, leading to calls from members for a ‘summer of protest activity’.

Thompsons Solicitors – which stands side-by-side with the trade union movement – proudly represents the rights of thousands of union members in the nursing profession. 

Madeleine Pinschof, senior medical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “A drop in school nurses of this scale is a serious cause for concern. It suggests many schools aren’t able to provide the early treatment that children can and do need on a regular basis. Similarly, a lack of health visitors will leave children and their families without the support needed to establish lifelong health and wellbeing. 

“Lack of funding will limit the services available and put extra strain on those nurses who are remaining. This will only increase the level of health problems found in children, which could have been tackled early on with adequate services. The government must end these damaging cuts.”