Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association

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Department of Health Information Sheet: Health Visiting

The Government recognises the crucial role played by Health Visitors in the delivery of health improvement.

The government strategy `Saving lives and Making a difference` includes a comprehensive programme of action for developing the public health role of health visitors through the `Health Visiting and School Nursing Development programme`. As part of this programme a number of new health visitor appointments of leadership posts have been made to develop and demonstrate the new roles. The posts demonstrate the new ways of working more creatively which focus on particular aspects of local needs, for example, social exclusion, supporting vulnerable families, teenage pregnancy, ethnic health issues. Health visitors also featured among the Health Action Zone fellowship awards; are directly involved in the Sure Start programmes; in Primary care Beacons and in community development.

NMC proposals

On 30 March the Government published plans for establishing a new regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to replace the UKCC and the four national boards.

The Government accepted the argument that midwifery regulation is a separate case due to the statutory protection of its function and the achievement of its professional standards through supervision. For this reason it has been agreed to provide for a statutory Midwifery committee. But it should be noted that the new Council will be free to establish a Health Visiting committee.

The new Council will have a duty to have regard to the interests of each profession and it will not be able to decide matters solely affecting one profession against the wishes of members who are practitioners of that profession. The safeguard of professional regulation for health visitors is therefore fully preserved. But we have accepted the recommendation of JM Consulting's independent report that the new body should be called the Nursing and Midwifery Council to reflect the professions it must cover and to keep the name brief and easily recognisable for the public

The new Council will certainly be concerned with the regulation of health visitors and there will be ample scope to address specific issues about their education, training and clinical practice.