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Universal HV service needed

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The government wants to return health visiting to the 'universal service it once was', according to Dan Poulter MP.

Speaking to Independent Nurse, Mr Poulter, the parliamentary undersecretary for health services, said: 'We want to have health visiting as a universal service. We want to reach every family and every new life. One of the challenges that we face with health visiting is that it is far from the universal service it was a few years ago.'

He also highlighted the importance of the work health visitors do, such as working with mothers suffering from postnatal depression. He said: 'This is something that needs someone who is trained to understand and to support the patient. A health visitor can get the support in early because sometimes mums won't always recognise when they are running into trouble, or might dismiss their own signs or symptoms, where a health visitor will not.'

In February 2011, the government pledged to increase the number of health visitors by 4200 by the end of March 2015. Mr Poulter spoke to Independent Nurse at PHE's conference in early July.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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I was interested to read your views regarding the "return to the universal service" of health visiting.

I am a health visiting student recruited as part of the current government pledge to increase the number of health visitors by 4200 by March 2015. It would be delightful to be able to deliver a universal service to families, but given the number of families needing additional support, the funding to provide this service seems to me woefully inadequate, especially in light of the austerity measures imposed by the same government which have pushed many more families into difficult circumstances. These difficult circumstances then add pressure to already fragile families and cause more to fragment due to poverty, economic strain, unemployment. This can then take a more sinister turn for some, who seek to escape their circumstances by substance abuse and alcohol dependence.

All these circumstances lead to more families being labelled as "troubled" which then detracts from the universal service health visitors are desperately trying to deliver. If the government want their supposed support for families to be taken seriously they need to acknowledge the role they have played in changing the balance of family dynamics, and address the root causes.
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