Department of Health Skip to content

Please note that this website has a UK government access keys system.

You are here:

Early implementer sites launched and recruitment of 4,200 extra health visitors begins  

  • Last modified date:
    30 March 2011
Health visitor with couple and baby

Twenty sites have been selected to lead the way in delivering the new health visiting service. The new service, announced in February 2011, will improve the health and well-being of children, families and communities, and health visitors will play a central role in making this happen.

An extra 4,200 health visitors are being recruited over the next 4 years and ex-health visitors are being encouraged to return to the profession.

“Health visitors are trusted by parents and have the training and experience to provide a helping hand when families need it most.” Prime Minister David Cameron

The new health visiting service is about providing information and support for all new parents. Health visitors will offer a universal service to families, with more targeted and tailored support for those who need it.

Early implementer sites

The Chief Nursing Officer Dame Christine Beasley said: ”The Early Implementer health visiting sites will help showcase some of the best practice in the country. With our support they will be able to build on this success and share expertise but also provide inspiration across the whole profession.

“As well as attracting 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.”

The early implementer sites will lead the way in:

  • improving local child and family services through increasing the number of health visitors resulting in better health outcomes for children and families, higher job satisfaction for health visitors and their teams, stronger local partnerships across health and early years services
  • mobilising and supporting health visitors and their teams to develop and deliver the new service model and family offer
  • demonstrating how local commissioners and their providers can implement the service model and family offer – ensuring that increased capacity delivers a transformed service
  • strengthening the Healthy Child Programme by drawing on learning from the Family Nurse Partnership Programme and other evidence-based methods and programmes
  • sharing learning from the development process and demonstrating early success

“The Early Implementer health visiting sites will help showcase some of the best practice in the country. With our support they will be able to build on this success and share expertise but also provide inspiration across the whole profession.” Chief Nursing Officer Dame Christine Beasley

Each Strategic Health Authority has identified two sites in their region that are already close to providing this new service. Check out the map at the link below to see the location of the early implementer sites.

A bigger workforce

Boosting the numbers of health visitors is key to delivering the Government’s new vision for the profession and the service on offer for families and communities, and as part of this, return to practice training schemes are being set up across the country to make it simple for ex-health visitors to return.

The Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We are determined to give parents the support they need to give their children the best start in life. Health visitors are trusted by parents and have the training and experience to provide a helping hand when families need it most.

“That is why we are committed to building a universal health visiting service with an extra 4,200 health visitors. So I'd like to encourage nurses to come forward to train as health visitors and any former health visitors to consider coming back to the profession.”

Return to practice pilots

Two Strategic Health Authorities: NHS London and NHS East Midlands, have piloted successful return to practice campaigns for health visitors, providing others with evidence on how best to structure courses around the needs of returning health visitors.

“It is essential for families that we have the numbers of health visitors we need.” Health Minister Anne Milton

The initial pilot schemes have been evaluated and a recommendations document has been created for other Strategic Health Authorities to consider as part of their return to practice programme.

In London alone, 47 ex-health visitors are due to return as a result of the pilots.

Health Minister Anne Milton, herself a nurse for 25 years, and a district nurse for some of that time, said: “It is essential for families that we have the numbers of health visitors we need. By recruiting more and developing the profession they will be able to deliver sound preventative health care based on the evidence about the importance of the early years of life.

“The twenty sites announced today will be at the forefront of implementing our vision for health visiting services. As well as making sure all families get the service they should, they will also focus on vulnerable and disadvantaged families. Health visitors will be supported to use their skills to work with local communities to develop services. This will put health visiting at the heart of achieving better health outcomes in our communities.”

Access keys