Prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) in June’s general election will be invited to observe the work community nurses do on a daily basis first hand as part of the campaign to make the case for public health budgets to be properly ringfenced.

This was a key objective to emerge from a campaign meeting of about 100 health visitors and school nurses in the Houses of Parliament yesterday (Wednesday 26th of April) to hammer out a checklist to ensure that public health budgets are properly ringfenced.

The community nurses, members of Unite, were addressed by Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth.

Unite sent a clear message that they want PPCs to be fully appraised about what is happening to the public health agenda since local councils in England took it over from the NHS in 2015.

Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: “Yesterday’s meeting of health visitors and school nurses and their teams at parliament was very successful and a clear blueprint for action emerged.

“We will be asking our health sector members to invite the prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) to come and see what community nurses do on a daily basis to support families with babies and young children, often in vulnerable situations, during the election campaign.

“We hope that such visits will expand PPCs’ understanding of their work so they will be better able to lobby the health secretary in the next government to properly ringfence the public health budgets that were taken over by local councils in England from the NHS in 2015.

“Theresa May bangs on about ‘the national interest’ – and we say that it is in the national interest that there is a strong, vibrant and well-resourced community nurse workforce that assists families and young children. Prevention of problems is more cost-effective in the long run.”

The figures from NHS Digital show the number of health visitors working in the NHS in England plummeted by 8.7 per cent (899 WTE posts) between October 2015 and October 2016 and school nurses  dropped by six per cent (164 WTE posts) during the same period.