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Health visiting service to be expanded

  • Last modified date:
    8 February 2011
Health visitor with family

Families with young children will be offered improved help and support thanks to new plans to expand and rejuvenate the health visiting service announced today by Public Health Minister Anne Milton at the Reshaping the Nursing Workforce Conference held at The King’s Fund in London.

By 2015 we should see an extra 4,200 health visitors and an improvement in the quality of the health visiting service for children and families.

“Health visitors play such an important role – they give families that extra bit of support they need in their children’s early years.”
Anne Milton, Public Health Minister


The Health Visitors Implementation Plan sets out the full range of services that families, depending on their needs, will be able to expect from health visitors and their teams.

The Implementation Plan addresses concerns that many health visitors feel undervalued and sets out what needs to be done to turn this around.


The Health Visitors Implementation Plan explains that the service will:

  • develop, support and promote the services set up by families and communities themselves as part of the ‘Your Community’ service
  • lead and deliver the Healthy Child Programme – designed to offer a core evidence-based programme of support starting in pregnancy and continuing
  • throughout childhood – ensuring all children get the essential immunisations, health and development checks they need
  • ensure a rapid response with expert help for problems such as postnatal depression or a sleepless baby
  • provide ongoing support, as part of a range of local services, working together with disadvantaged families to deal with more complex issues.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: ‘Developing the health visitor workforce is critical to rejuvenating the service so it offers a rapid response for urgent issues, access to child rearing expertise and the resource to deliver ongoing support. That’s why we’re making the money available to recruit 4,200 health visitors and improve the training they get.

‘Health visitors play such an important role – they give families that vital extra bit of support they need in their children’s early years. We need more of them so they can reclaim their role in the heart of our communities and at the centre of family life.

‘As well as new recruits, we also want to encourage those who have left the profession to return. And we will offer existing health visitors the chance to refresh and develop their skills – helping to improve career opportunities and retention.

‘Now is an exciting time to join what promises to be a rewarding, dynamic and essential service.’

Sure Start children’s centres

The plan also reinforces the importance of the relationship between Sure Start children’s centres and health visitors.

Many health visitors already work closely with their local Sure Start children’s centre, every one of which should have access to a named health visitor. Children’s centres, which are accessible to all families with young children, have an important role in working together with health visitors in identifying and supporting families in greatest need, providing services to local families and promoting health and well-being.

Anne Milton visited a Sure Start centre in Islington at the end of January where she met parents and children, health visitors and staff.

Service vision for health visiting in England

The national recruitment drive to create 4,200 new health visitors was confirmed by Anne Milton at the Unite Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) conference in October 2010.

Also at the CPHVA conference, the Chief Nursing Officer, Christine Beasley,launched the new ‘Service vision for health visiting in England’, which had been developed with CPHVA and other professional partners and complemented the Government's commitment to grow and re-energise the profession.

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