Report Recommends Redefining Role Of Health Visitors

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An independent review is recommending strengthening the role for health visitors to maximises the impact they can have on children and families.

Ros Lowe, Chair of the Queens Nursing Institute, who led the review, was commissioned by Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, to describe a renewed role for health visitors in light of changing health needs and public expectations.

Following wide-ranging engagement with over a thousand health visitors and local leaders, the review recommends that the profession should have two key roles:

- Leading and delivering a renewed Child Health Promotion Programme for all young children and families

- Intensive early intervention and prevention for families who need help most

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It is in these areas where health visitors can utilise their skills and knowledge to have the greatest impact and help deliver the Government's commitment to ensure that children and families receive the care and support they need.

Ros Lowe, Chair of the Queens Nursing Institute said: "In carrying out this review I have listened carefully to the profession about what they feel health visitors should offer.

"It is not simply about more health visitors doing the same job they have always done but rather focussing their skills and expertise: in early intervention with children and families, and in tackling the 'difficult' issues in vulnerable families and communities within a public health context."

Welcoming the review, Christine Beasley Chief Nursing Officer, said: "I know that there are genuine concerns within the profession that health visiting has lost its focus, which is why we commissioned this review. I am determined that we clarify the role of health visitors to ensure they are best placed to make the greatest impact. This review recognises the huge impact that health visitors can have on children's health and well-being and we will be studying the recommendations closely

Dr Peter Carter OBE, General Secretary of the RCN, said: 'I welcome this report which provides a clear direction for the modernised health visiting service in the future. Primary care trusts should use this report to strengthen the contribution of health visiting to local child health promotion and review health visiting resources to achieve this'

The Government will now engage stakeholders on how we take forward the recommendations within the report and will publish its response to the review in the autumn.

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