Families with young children will be offered improved help and support thanks to ambitious new plans to expand and rejuvenate the health visiting service announced today by Public Health Minister Anne Milton.
The Health Visitors Implementation Plan sets out the full range of services that families will be able to expect from health visitors and their teams, depending on their needs. 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.
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 and with disadvantaged families, to deal with more complex issues over a period of time - under the ‘Universal Partnership Plus’ service.
The Implementation Plan addresses concerns that some health visitors feel undervalued and sets out what needs to be done to turn this around. The plan also reinforces the importance of the relationship between children’s centres and health visitors. Many health visitors already work closely with their local Sure Start Children’s Centre providing services to local families and promoting health and wellbeing alongside the Sure Start staff. Children’s centres are accessible to all families with young children and have an important role in identifying and supporting families in greatest need. Every centre should have access to a named health visitor.
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.”
Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said:
“The Royal College of Nursing welcomes this initiative as it is well known that health visitors make a significant impact on the health of young children, families and communities. They play a vital role in disease prevention and the early identification of health and social problems. Health visitors carry out a range of measures which have a lifelong positive impact on the health and quality of the life of children. The Royal College of Nursing welcomes the opportunity to work closely with Government in its endeavours to break what can sometimes be a cycle of deprivation.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information contact the Department of Health press office on: 020 7210 5221
2. Health visitors are trained nurses or midwives with specialist training in family and community health and are key to meeting the needs of families. They are skilled at spotting early issues, which may develop into problems or risks to families if not addressed. They are public health nurses trained to work at community, family and individual level. They lead and deliver the Healthy Child Programme, which is designed to offer a core, evidence based programme of support, starting in pregnancy, through the early years of life and throughout childhood. At the same time they provide or are the gateway to other services which families may need.
3. Over the past 25 years, society and families have changed. There are now more families with complex needs and health visitors need to be able to respond to these changes. As well as the traditional aspects of the role, giving advice and support to new mothers, health visitors also have an important role in safeguarding children and referring onto specialist services.ContactsNDS Enquiries
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