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Babies and children failed in pandemic response, warn health visitors

BABIES and young children have been “forgotten and failed” in the nation’s pandemic response, health visiting leaders have said.

The Institute of Health Visiting’s annual survey, formally published today, found that 61 per cent of health visitors in England had reported an increase in cases of child neglect.

It also found four fifths of health visitors reporting a rise in domestic violence and abuse as well as perinatal mental illness.

The institute said the findings laid bare the “damage” that the pandemic has inflicted on families, with the youngest and most vulnerable suffering the most.

Alison Morton, deputy executive director, said: “Babies and young children were largely invisible in the first wave of the government’s emergency plans.

“With a growing body of evidence, we now know that many children are being harmed by the secondary impact of the pandemic and we cannot knowingly overlook their needs again, as we live with the virus for the foreseeable future.”

NSPCC associate head of policy and public affairs Andrew Fellowes said the government needed to act to avoid “failing a generation of children.”

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