The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published guidance to help local authorities commission “effective” health visiting services from next year.
Under the government’s public health reforms, responsibility for funding health visiting services will pass from the NHS to local authorities in October 2015.
NICE has this week published a new Health Visiting briefing document designed to support councils after the transfer.
“Putting the recommendations in this briefing into practice will help local authorities to support members of the health visiting team”
It summarises some of the institute’s existing recommendations relevant to health visiting from a number of its guidance topics, and highlights the positive impact of investing in early years care.
This will assist local authorities in “commissioning high quality health visiting services, which make best use of resources and provide good value for money”, said NICE. For example, it notes that supporting more women to breastfeed could save an estimated £17m in treatment costs each year.
The briefing paper also includes recommendations on preparing people for parenthood and supporting families in the early weeks after birth, maintaining a healthy weight among families and supporting maternal mental wellbeing.
Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE said: “Putting the recommendations highlighted in this briefing into practice will help local authorities and their partner organisations to support members of the health visiting team, and commission effective public health services.”
NICE has also published a second briefing – titled Using evidence in practice – to help local authorities understand how to use evidence to inform decisions about public health issues.
It is intended to be a “step-by-step guide” on how different types of information, such as formal research, community surveys or clinical results, can be used to inform decisions about commissioning and practice.
Professor Kelly said: “Local authorities are under pressure to make public health decisions that offer value for money and help people in their area keep healthy.
“We hope that this briefing will support local authorities in using robust, transparent processes for their decision-making,” he added.