Health Visiting Programme

Every child is entitled to the best possible start in life. The first 1001 days from conception to age 2 is widely recognised as a crucial period in a child’s development, and a child’s brain development in this period is a determining factor of their ability to learn for the rest of their life course.

Early support and intervention can have a huge impact on a child’s health and social outcomes. Support from health visiting teams, as well as primary care and early years staff isn’t just about addressing health issues, it’s also about child development, safeguarding, links to education and ultimately, tackling inequality.

The Healthy Child Programme, an evidence-based programme of universal and targeted assessments and interventions to meet identified need, was developed to respond to and support the value and impact of early intervention and prevention.

Health visitors play a crucial role in ensuring children have the best possible start in life, and lead delivery of the 0-5 elements of the Healthy Child Programme in partnership with other health and social care colleagues. Investing in the health visiting service has a profound impact on supporting the lifelong health and wellbeing of young children and their families as evidenced through numerous studies such as the Marmot Review.

The Health Visiting Programme, started in 2011 is the Government’s commitment to address the need to enhance the health visiting service to provide a universal service so that more families can gain the support and valuable intervention and early prevention that health visitors can deliver.

The Health Visiting Programme’s aims are to deliver, by March 2015:

  • A transformed, rejuvenated health visiting service providing improved outcomes for children and families with more targeted and tailored support for those who need it, and
  • To increase health visitors by 4,200.

The Programme represents a major investment in services for young children and families and is intended to:

  • Improve access to services;
  • Improve the experience of children and families;
  • Improve health and wellbeing outcomes for under-fives; and
  • Reduce health inequalities.

The Programme is delivered in partnership between the Department of Health (DH), NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Health Education England (HEE).

DH is the system lead and NHS England is responsible under the NHS Mandate and Section 7A for commissioning the additional capacity and service transformation. Professional leadership comes from both DH and PHE, while HEE is mandated to lead the delivery of students and CPD and PHE has responsibility for evidence, information and the wider public health.

A National Health Visiting Core Service Specification and Performance Report Framework have been developed to support both commissioners and providers in delivery. You can find these documents under Programme Documents and Resources.

Below is also a summary with quick links to our website pages:

  • News: The latest news from across the health visiting world
  • Programme Information:
    • Programme documents and resources
    • Key documents and links to resources of interest to help those delivering and commissioning the health visiting service
  • Case studies: How health visitors are making a difference
  • Webinars: Webinars to support those involved in delivery and current/future commissioning

For more information on the Health Visiting Programme please contact: