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'It doesn't matter' where health visitors are based, says Lansley

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The health secretary has dismissed arguments over where health visitors should be based as “missing the point”.

Speaking last week at a meeting in the Commons on public health intervention at an early age, Andrew Lansley said he recognised there had been debate over whether health visitors should be based in children’s centre or attached to general practices.

But he said: “I think the argument about are health visitors based in children’s centres or based in general practices is missing the point….It really doesn’t matter.

“The point is they are [in effect] based with families, and they should be connected up with their general practices and children’s centres.”  

He added: “Most of the health visitors I talk to are very clear about not only are they linking into children’s centres, but they are linking into general practices as well.”

Mr Lansley said he remained committed to increasing the health visiting workforce to the levels set out in the national health visitor programme published last year, in order to create a “universal” service.

In particular he praised the profession for its effectiveness in helping young mothers access local services, often as their first source for information.

He noted his surprise at how often this process began during pregnancy, following talks earlier this month with health visitors from pilot sites from the national programme.

“Many were very focused on working with mothers during pregnancy. More than I thought would be the case,” he said.

“I thought the focus would be on coming home with baby. But actually they are very focused on if you get the right relationship with mothers – they have the right information, they have the right support during pregnancy – not only do you improve things like nutrition [and] baby’s health during pregnancy, but actually you get the right response when baby comes home.”

Mr Lansley called on the new GP led clinical commissioning groups, which are due to take over control of the bulk of NHS budgets from next April, to use the expertise of health visitors when designing services.

He said: “I’m hoping CCGs will look to the health visitor team in their area as being a source of leadership for building a children’s health outcomes framework.”

The event was organised by Graham Allen, Labour MP for North Nottingham, who plans to launch an Early Intervention Foundation.   

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • It is never worth listening to those that do the job. Far better to take a high handed approach and dismiss all that you are told, label those that say it as outdated and continue on with your own agenda. If you are wrong - someone in the future can always make a further change although never quite putting it right.

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  • Totally agree. Why waste time listening to those who do the work anyway? What would they know? Or I suppose what we could do...just to show willing, run a consultation asking the views of those who do the 'important' work, make it look as if we haven't made the decisions about restructure already...and then ignore all of their comments entirely and bulldoze ahead with the ridiculous changes that won't work and will lead to more useless changes within less than 5 years! Hey!...what a brilliant brainwave!
    Hold on - Got a feeling that's done over and over in the NHS already? :-(

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  • So does it matter Mr Lansley if you are based in London or not?

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