Local authorities to commission health visiting services


27 / 8 / 2014 4.11pm

What is happening?

From 1 October 2015, the responsibility for commissioning health visiting, and other children’s public health services, including health visiting services, will transfer from NHS England to local authorities.

The Department of Health (DH) will expect local authorities to provide health visiting (HV) services in five key areas when they take over the role of commissioning the services from the NHS.

As part of the switch, the government will initially make it mandatory for local authorities to ensure the provision of the following key elements of the Healthy Child Programme delivered by health visitors;

  • antenatal health promoting reviews
  • new baby reviews
  • six to eight week assessments
  • one year assessments and
  • two to two and a half year reviews.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, the aim is that regulations are in place by May 2015, with a ‘sunset clause’ at 18 months. A review of this arrangement will be undertaken with Public Health England after 12 months, which will inform decisions on the future of health visiting commissioning.

What does this mean for you?

The change that will happen is for the commissioning of HV services to move from NHS England to local authorities.  Health visitors will remain employed by their current employer.  

Under the current commissioning arrangement, overseen by NHS England, its national service specification is used as the basis to commission the health visiting service (i.e. between Area Teams and providers).  To help to ensure a smooth transition, the NHS and local authorities are working together to jointly commission HV services this year.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will remain the regulatory body that oversees the training required to be registered as a health visitor.

In order to ensure your priorities are recognised, employers may want to be engaged in conversation with current commissioners, through your local area teams, and with your LETBs and partners. NHS Employers will continue to keep you updated via our website, and our share and learn network.  

Commissioning guidance for local authorities

The Department of Health has worked in partnership with key stakeholders to produce 6 documents. They articulate the contribution of health visitors to the 0-5 agenda and identify areas where health visitors have a significant impact on health and wellbeing and improving outcomes for children, families and communities. They have been developed to support the transition of commissioning to Local Authorities and to help inform decisions around the commissioning of the health visiting service and integrated children’s early years services.

The documents are mainly intended for use by commissioners and providers of early years services, health visitors, early years practitioners and local authorities.

Access the DH guidance for local authorities

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