Health visiting 

The start of life is a crucial time for both children and parents. For some parents adapting to a new baby comes easily, while for others additional support is needed to give their child the best possible start.

picture of a baby

By working in partnership with other services, health visitors help parents prepare for birth and help them to adapt to the time ahead and have a positive start. They promote the health and well-being of children and families by working with parents to assess the need for care, provide routine child development checks, have responsibility for child protection issues and developing appropriate support programmes where needed.

The health visiting service

The Department of Health published the Health visitor implementation plan 2011-15 A call to action on 8 February 2011 which sets out the full range of services that families will be able to expect from health visitors and their teams. It will create a bigger, rejuvenated workforce with an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015 and an improvement in the quality of the health visiting service for children and families with more targeted and tailored support for those who need it. 

The rejuvenated service will:

  • develop, support and promote the services set up by families and communities themselves as part of the ‘Your Community’ service
  • deliver the Healthy Child Programme ensuring all children get the essential immunisations, health and development checks as part of the ‘Universal Services’
  • ensure a rapid response with expert help for problems like postnatal depression or a sleepless baby as part of the ‘Universal  Plus’ Service and
  • provide ongoing support as part of a range of local services working together with disadvantaged families, to deal with more complex issues over a period of time - under the ‘Universal Partnership Plus’ service.

26 early implementer sites were selected in March 2011 to lead the way in delivering the new health visiting service. The Department of Health has published Celebrating Early Implementer Achievements - One Year On which describes the progress made within each site.

Health visiting web pages

2 mothers with childrenOn 8 February 2011 the Department of Health (DH) published their implementation plan to support the recruitment of an additional 4,200 health visitors. The plan sets out the vision of the new health visiting service, the call to action for the stakeholders involved, the pathway to 2015 and information about the work programmes that will support the implementation.

Read a summary of information with relevant links following the Government's commitment to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015.

Our return to practice web page provides information from two pilot sites; NHS London and NHS East Midlands who have recently provided return to practice courses with their local universities. It looks at the main issues around training, course costs, findings and recommendations which other employers can use when considering running return to practice programmes.

Our shared learning pages provide information from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who adopted a flexible learning approach to help increase their health visiting workforce. Read how they developed a sustainable solution, the benefits of the new pathway and tips for other trusts.

The NMC update web page looks at the guidance that has been published in response to a number of myths or misunderstandings that exist around education programmes for health visitors and student support. It is intended to guide and support employers and education commissioners to work together in meeting the challenge of increasing the health visitor workforce.

We will keep you up to date with information and updates on our latest news page. Here you will find all the latest information relevant to the health visiting workforce with links to further information to keep you up to date.

Get in touch

If you have any suggestions or comments regarding our health visiting web pages or would like to tell us about areas of health visiting you are involved with, please email

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Adele Scott
0113 306 3049

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