Health Visiting Programme

Every child is entitled to the best possible start in life and health visitors play an essential role in achieving this.

By working with, and supporting families during the crucial early years of a child’s life, health visitors have a profound impact on the lifelong health and wellbeing of young children and their families.

They also lead on the delivery of the early years elements of the Healthy Child Programme in partnership with other health and social care colleagues.

Health Visiting Programme

The Health Visiting Programme commenced in 2011 with the aim of providing a universal health visiting service which would give more families valuable help and support from their health visitor. The Programme’s aims and objectives were set out in the 2011 Health Visitor Programme – Call to Action and was delivered in partnership by the Department of Health, NHS England, Public Health England and Health Education England

As of October 2015, NHS England will transfer commissioning of services for children between the ages of 0-5 to local authorities, including the health visitor service.

Local authorities know their communities and understand local need so can commission the most vital services to improve local children’s health and wellbeing. One of the benefits of councils commissioning health visitor services is that it offers opportunities to link with wider systems, such as housing, early year’s education providers. This in turn will provide a more joined-up, cost effective service built around the individual needs, paving the way to deliver across a wider range of public health issues.

The Health Visiting Programme has not only increased the numbers of health visitors by almost 50% to over 4000 but also made great impact on transforming the service. You can read more about the success of the Programme by reading Viv Bennett’s blog.

The transformation of the service can be summarised in the 4, 5, 6 model and is outlined below:

The 4 Levels of Service

These levels set out what all families can expect from their local health visitor service:

  • Community: health visitors have a broad knowledge of community needs and resources available e.g. Children’s Centres and self-help groups and work to develop these and make sure families know about them.
  • Universal (the 5 key visits): health visitor teams ensure that every new mother and child have access to a health visitor, receive development checks and receive good information about healthy start issues such as parenting and immunisation.
  • Universal Plus: families can access timely, expert advice from a health visitor when they need it on specific issues such as postnatal depression, weaning or sleepless children.
  • Universal Partnership Plus: health visitors provide ongoing support, playing a key role in bringing together relevant local services, to help families with continuing complex needs, for example where a child has a long-term condition.

The 5 universal health reviews

The 5 key visits are those that all families can expect under the universal level of service. They are also mandated (i.e. local authorities have committed to deliver) as part of the first 18 months of the transfer of commissioning;

  • Antenatal
  • New baby
  • 6 – 8 weeks
  • 9 – 12 months
  • 2 – 2 ½ years

Read more about the 5 key visits all families can expect from their health visitor.

The 6 high impact areas

The purpose of the High Impact Area documents is to articulate the contribution of health visitors and describe areas where health visitors have a significant impact on health and wellbeing and improving outcomes for children, families and communities. These are as follows:

  • Transition to parenthood
  • Maternal mental health
  • Breastfeeding
  • Healthy weight
  • Managing minor illness & accident prevention
  • Healthy 2 year olds & school readiness

Below are links to some more information about health visiting and what health visitors do: