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4th Jul, 2022

Warwickshire mum's plea for more health visitors who 'saved her life'

A MUM from Warwick, is urging the government to increase health visitor numbers after her ‘life was saved’ after the birth of her first child.

Ahead of the government spending review, in her letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Leanne Howlett describes the weeks after her first child was born as ‘clouded by an inability to cope and a feeling of despair’. She claims it was the health visitors’ ability to spot the signs which ultimately saved her life.

The 34-year-old said: “To have to reach out and say you are struggling is the hardest call you will ever make, and for many, it can feel impossible. For this reason, so many parents end up struggling at home alone, behind closed doors, afraid to speak up. I was very lucky that healthcare professionals spotted the signs, and I don’t doubt for a second that this saved my life and stopped my children having to grow up without me – their mum.

“As a new parent, you are all too aware that the early days and months with your new baby are full of precious moments that you’ll never get back. But for me, and so many other women, they can be clouded by an inability to cope and a feeling of despair. Despite having no previous mental health difficulties, becoming a mum was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, as many parents do, I plastered on a smile and told everyone I was ‘fine’. I am not alone in this.”

The letter ended with Leanne’s request for a meeting with Mr Sunak to explore how parents and their families can be better supported.

Similarly, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is calling on the Government to invest £500million in dedicated public health funding to train and recruit 3,000 health visitors.

According to the charity, up to one in five mums and one in ten dads experience perinatal mental health problems.

As part of its Fight for a Fair Start campaign, the NSPCC has consistently called for quality perinatal mental health support to be available to parents across the UK, regardless of their postcode.

Spokeswoman Vicky Nevin said: “Access to support for families and babies has been inconsistent for years, but the pandemic has thrown up even bigger challenges for parents like Leanne. At a time when health visitors were needed most, many were redeployed away from supporting families, and short-staffed services have struggled to catch up with demand.

“Health visitors are in a prime position to reach all families at a crucial stage in their child’s development. They provide a trusted source of support and advice at what can be a vulnerable time for parents’ mental health.

“For too long babies and their parents have been left behind. The spending review is a crucial moment for the Chancellor to invest in rebuilding the health visiting workforce.”

The three-year spending review is set to be announced on October 27.

Visit nspcc.org.uk/fair-start to sign the NSPCC petition.

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