A preferred plan for the relationship between health visitors and the NHS has been announced by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV).
To be published in response to the NHS’s 10-year plan, the iHV hope their report will strengthen health visiting services alongside the new recommendations and highlight the vital role they play.
‘Health visitors have a vital role in delivering early preventative services for infants and children, and in supporting parents through the emotional challenges of early parenthood. Unless there is a plan to strengthen health visiting services alongside the new NHS 10-year plan, it will be impossible to deliver on many of what we expect to be its worthy ambitions,’ said Cheryll Adams, executive director of the iHV.
‘Three years of the local authority commissioning model has seen a loss of around 20% of the workforce and worryingly high levels of grade mix. Therefore, we are proposing a new joint NHS/Local Authority governance/commissioning model - this we hope will avoid such challenges for services to our most vulnerable members of society in the future.’
The recommendations state that every family should have at least nine universal contacts, which is already commonplace in Wales and Scotland. However, this will require more investment into the health visiting profession.
The NHS 10-year plan, promised by the government earlier this summer, is designed to outline how the increases in NHS funding over 5 years will be distributed. The additional funding amounts to a 3.4% annual budget increase above inflation.
‘Our position statement makes clear what we believe needs to happen to improve outcomes for children through strengthened health visiting – with a renewed focus on children’s services, improving mental health and prevention and reducing inequalities in the essential early years period,’ continued Dr Adams.
‘We are circulating it widely to decision makers and those concerned about giving every child the best start in life.’