Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands Conservative MSP, last week joined MSPs from across the political spectrum in backing a campaign which urges the Scottish Government to seize an opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s children by ensuring all families have access to health visitors.
Campaigners presented the Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell, with a petition signed by people from across Scotland.
Above: Jamie McGrigor with fellow MSPs supporting the RCN campaign at Parliament
RCN Scotland’s Health Visitors for Scotland campaign is supported by the country's Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Royal College of General Practitioners, children's charity Children in Scotland, Parenting Across Scotland, the Community Practitioners & Health Visitors Association (CPHVA), the Queen's Nursing Institute for Scotland, the Institute of Health Visiting, and the Centre for Confidence & Wellbeing. The campaign’s petition calls on the Scottish Government to enshrine a statutory entitlement to universal health visiting services.
Commenting, Jamie said:
“It is well known how critical health in the early years is to the rest of a person’s life, and the best way of giving people that start is by having universal health visitors. The initial outlay will be well worth it and (will) help to save money for the NHS further down the line. And not only will health visitors be able to spot potential problems with a baby or toddler’s health, they can help out new parents as well”.
Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland Director, said:
“Timely action by health visitors can reduce problems in later childhood, promote self-care and resilience, and prevent ill health throughout life. It is, therefore, a crucial preventative service in the early years. That’s why we think this opportunity should be seized to enshrine in law Scotland’s commitment to a universal health visiting service”.
Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, welcomed the petition handover, and said:
“We need more and better-trained health visitors now and in the future to realise our ambitions for maximising early years’ development. The Scottish Government needs to act with more urgency and take steps now on the workforce shortages in respect of health visitors - especially in light of the Named Person proposals set out in the Children and Young People Bill”.
John Carnochan, former Detective Chief Superintendent with Strathclyde Police and co-founder and former co-director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, said recently:
“The Named Person is not only about protecting the most vulnerable, but it’s about providing support to families so they can be as good as they can be, and that’s where health visitors fit in. I believe that if difficult decisions have to be made, it would be better to invest in extra health visitors even at the expense of the police, so that children are provided with any support they may need in the first few years of their lives. This is crucial to the future health, wellbeing, and resilience of children across Scotland, and resilient children will become resilient adults".
Jackie Brock, Chief Executive, Children in Scotland, said:
"Children in Scotland is delighted to be a partner in the Health Visitors for Scotland campaign. We have long argued that, for children to reach their potential, they need the best possible start in life. Ensuring there are enough fully qualified health visitors is crucial to achieving this aim”.