Cuts to training budgets in Northern Ireland will mean fewer school nurses, health visitors and speech and language therapists – undermining any serious commitment to early intervention.
Celine McStravick, Director of the National Children’s Bureau Northern Ireland, said:
‘The draft programme for Government in Northern Ireland aims to give children the ‘best start in life’ but these are empty words if cuts to nurse training budgets deprive children of access to the professionals who can improve their health and development from an early age.
‘These cuts will mean fewer school nurses, health visitors, speech and language therapists and other community health workers: all vital parts of an early intervention approach to health that steps in early to solve health problems before they become acute.
‘The Department for Health has said the current financial climate means ‘taking difficult decisions’ but the logic is flawed. The early interventions that nurses and other community health professionals provide for children and families can save money in the long run, while preventing children from suffering the worst effects of ill health as they grow up.’