40 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3UD

Tel: 0171-939 7000

6 October 2000

Letters to the Editor
The Independent
1 Canada Square
London E14 5Dl

Dear Sir

For Yvette Cooper, the Minister of Public Health, to describe health visitors as "nagging" (NHS told to drop 'nanny state' health campaigns, 1 October) is a contradiction in terms.

While it was heartening to read Ms Cooper's commitment to improving people's knowledge about positive lifestyle choices, I was dismayed to see that health visitors - an overworked and dedicated workforce - branded as "nagging".

Health visitors spend their working lives offering help to families, many of who face enormous barriers in achieving a healthy lifestyle. Health visitors recognise that poverty is the greatest hurdle in achieving the goals that the minister has outlined. For health visitors to "nag" families would be counter-productive and they are educated to adopt more sensitive approaches.

Evidence to reinforce the fact that health visitors are vital in promoting healthier lifestyles has come in the recently published report The Effectiveness of Domiciliary Health Visiting.

Hopefully, when Ms Cooper addresses our annual conference later this month she will see that health visitors far from deserving the "nagging" tag have a tendency to be undervalued by people whose agenda they are working hard to deliver.

Yours faithfully

Jackie Carnell
Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA)