Inconsistency in the titles given to nurses providing health visiting services services must be addressed, the Royal College of Nursing has said in a position statement.
The college says in some areas of the UK the title health visitor is still used by employers, while in other areas the term specialist community public health nurse has been introduced, and in Scotland the title public health nurse is used by some health boards.
However, the RCN says health visitor continues to be the term recognised and used in “common parlance” by families, the general public and politicians when describing nurses working in a public health role with under-fives.
In its position paper on “health visiting in the early years”, the college says there is a need for consistency of titles to help the public understand services, which it says should be a key issue tackled by a Nursing and Midwifery Council review scheduled to take place in the near future.
The paper, published last week, also sets out 31 core values “to guide the development of health visiting across the UK” and provides case studies of successful initiatives to support them.
RCN chief executive and general registrar Peter Carter called for funding for health visiting to be made a priority.
He said: “We know from examples – such as the two health visitors in Falmouth who led changes in the community and delivered a 50% decrease in crime and 70% decrease in postnatal depression – that these key staff are worth every penny.”