Health Visiting - what you need to know

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Children in playgroup
The invaluable role you play as providers of NHS health visiting (HV) services, developing children and supporting their families, has been reflected in recent increased investment and a spotlight on the profession. 

The pivotal role of health visitors in early years development and community support is acknowledged at the highest level. There are several organisations involved in setting the policy direction and context within which you are working. We work closely with all of them to ensure your views and feedback are reflected in strategic planning. 

Key partners in the health visiting world

The Department of Health: The government’s commitment to health visiting

One of the Department of Health (DH) key policy drivers is to give all children a healthy start in life. The healthy child programme: pregnancy and the first 5 years of life sets out plans for a universal preventative service, providing families with a programme of screening, immunisation, health and development reviews, supplemented by advice around health, wellbeing and parenting. 

Part of the recent investment in children in their early years, included a plan to expand and develop the HV workforce, recognising what a vital role these staff play in children’s health and wellbeing. The government’s ambitions were set out in the Health visitor implementation plan 2011 - 2015: a call to action. The Call to Action which ended in April 2015, focused on training, recruitment and retention, professional development and improved commissioning of the service between 2011 and 2015.  Read about the success of the implementation plan, in a 'thank you' letter from the Chief Nursing Officer, Viv Bennett, sent to stakeholders at the end of the call to action. 

At the end of 2014, it was announced that the two reviews on children's development carried out in health visiting and education settings would be integrated. Find out more about what this means for you on our integrated 2-2.5 year review webpage

NHS England: commissioning HV services 

NHS England is the body responsible for the commissioning of NHS services in England. From April 2013, it assumed responsibility for HV workforce growth and service transformation via the NHS mandate and section 7A agreement.

NHS England recently published the new HV service specification, which details plans for service provision in 2015-16. Access the document via the NHS England website.

NHS England works through its national, regional and local area teams to deliver its objectives. Employers should be engaging with these teams on health visiting and other local commissioning issues. 

Please note - from October 2015, the commissioning of HV services will become the responsibility of local authorities.  We have been working with you, and the DH to ensure employers are updated and had an opporutnity to contribute to plans. Find out more about plans for the transfer of commissioning here.

Health Education England: commissioning HV education

In 2013, Health Education England (HEE) assumed responsibility for HV training, as well as the education and training commissioning for the whole of the NHS. It is designed to be provider led - engaging with you through its Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) - and works in close partnership with NHS England through joint governance arrangements. 

HEE and the LETBs have key roles to play in the achievement of the HV programme, including:

  • Commissioning of training places
  • promoting the profile of HV as a career
  • supporting providers to strengthen development opportunities for existing staff to restore professional autonomy and decision making.
NHS Employers works with HEE at a national level. We know that employers are engaging with their LETBs to meet local training needs. 

In the Autumn of 2014, HEE and DH published details of a new 'health visiting education initiative', which offers new continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities for HVs. Find out more about the initiative here.

NHS Employers: here to help


As the employers' organisation for the NHS in England, we work closely with you to reflect your views and act on your behalf on workforce and employment issues, helping you to make sense of current and emerging healthcare issues.

One of our aims has been to support you to deliver the Health Visitor Implementation Plan during its lifetime. We have done this, by providing you with up to date information, guidance and tools to help you meet your trajectories and achieve the new health visiting service. Although this programme of work is now over, and we are not providing face to face support, this HV workforce hub contains a wealth of information to help you plan for, recruit, retain and develop an excellent workforce. 

Find out more about how we have helped you

Other supporting organisations 



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