Labour failed to improve health of under-fives, says Audit Commission

More than £10bn has been spent on improving the health of under-fives in England since 1998 but results are disappointing, according to the Audit Commission.

Parents say they avoid children's centres because of ‘judgmental nature of health professionals'
Parents say they avoid children's centres because of ‘judgmental nature of health professionals'

Report ‘Giving Children a Healthy Start' published on Wednesday finds there are fewer deaths in infancy and obesity rates are slowing overall. But gaps between the health of children in disadvantaged areas and those in better off places have grown.

The report adds that the number of health visitors in England has dropped 10%. Some parents from vulnerable groups are not using Sure Start children's centres because they are unaware of the service or they say they dislike the ‘judgmental nature of health professionals'.

Steve Bundred, the Audit Commission's chief executive, said: ‘Children need a healthier start in life and policies are not delivering commensurate improvement and value for money.'

Maria Miller, shadow Conservative families minister, said: ‘We will open up Sure Start to voluntary organisations with a track record in delivering high-class children's services and fund an additional 4,200 Sure Start health visitors to provide the health support that families need.'

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