Parents’ fears rise as GPs still won’t see babies face-to-face and parents are left feeling isolated by closure of drop-in clinics
GPs and health visitors are failing to support new parents properly by refusing to carry out check-ups on babies face-to-face, a damning report warns today.
The move to remote consultations and the closure of drop-in clinics has left mothers and fathers feeling isolated and worried about children’s health.
The report said Covid restrictions are having a ‘significant impact on babies, their families and the services that support them’.
It revealed families are still struggling to access care from GPs and many routine contacts with health visitors have been missed or delayed.
GPs and health visitors are failing to support new parents properly by refusing to carry out check-ups on babies face-to-face, a damning report warns today
Just 11 per cent of parents of under-twos last year reported seeing a health visitor face-to-face.
The new report, by three charities, said: ‘Over a year later, families told us that they are still struggling to access care, particularly from universal health care professionals like GPs and health visitors.
‘They told us how this left them feeling unsupported, isolated and let down.’
The Department of Health said: ‘The NHS, local authorities and health visitors are working hard to reinstate services to help families get the support they need.’
Ministers and NHS England have vowed to name and shame surgeries that fail to meet patient requests to be seen in-person.
Today’s report also includes a poll of 224 professionals and volunteers who work with families with young children.
Some 28 per cent reported that health visiting routine contacts and checks remained mainly on the phone or online.
And nearly a third (30 per cent) reported that health visitor drop-in clinics that existed before the pandemic were no longer operating.
Almost two in three (64 per cent) said GP appointments are now operating mainly online only and just 1 per cent said their GP service is back to normal.
The move to remote consultations and the closure of drop-in clinics has left mothers and fathers feeling isolated and worried about children’s health
The authors said the resumption of face-to-face services would be ‘hugely valuable, particularly given the specific challenges of assessing babies’ wellbeing and development’.
One mother told the report’s authors: ‘We’ve not seen anyone. We had a Zoom call at the 12-month [health visitor] check-up.
‘Of all my friends, I was the only one that actually got a video call, which was shocking. They didn’t even get a phone call.’
Meanwhile, the charities have been told by some parents that they are still unable to access baby and toddler groups.
Of the professionals surveyed, 12 per cent said baby and toddler groups were ‘no longer operating in their area’.
‘The absence and/or inaccessibility of community baby and toddler groups is likely to continue to exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation that have been reported over the pandemic,’ the authors added.
The charities have called for the Government to act by investing in health visiting services and including support services for babies in Covid-19 recovery plans.
They also called for an ‘evidence-based approach’ to be taken to the use of remote appointments and additional investment for face-to-face support where needed.