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Role of a Health Visitor

Someone becomes a parent in the UK every 45 seconds.
National Childbirth Trust


What is a health visitor?

All health visitors are nurses or midwives with specialist training in family and community health. They work with parents and their families to improve health and wellbeing. The health visitor’s role starts during pregnancy and continue to offer support through the first few weeks after the birth and all the way through until early childhood.

In March 2007, the Family and Parenting Institute, the leading centre of expertise on families and parenting in the UK, commissioned a poll by the research agency YouGov on health visitors. The poll showed that 76% of parents in England wanted parenting support and advice on their child’s health and development from a trained health visitor with up to date knowledge. 83% of parents wanted that support and advice in the home. Prior to 2010, for many reasons health visitor numbers had been in freefall, which almost made them an endangered species. In February 2011, the government released a document “The Health Visitor Implementation Plan – A Call for Action.” which pledged to substantially increase health visitor numbers throughout the country. Despite this promise, the numbers have only marginally increased as a huge proportion of very experienced and highly qualified health visitors have resigned from the NHS. This has left the NHS swamped with newly qualified and inexperienced health visitors who continue to work with a more targeted approach, tackling difficult issues with vulnerable families who have complex needs. This leaves many ordinary families, with ‘normal’ concerns, not being recognised by NHS health visitors due to lack of resources and time.  

So why engage a private health visitor?

Having recognised the key role a health visitor can play in the health and well being of young children as well as their parents, you will begin to understand the merits of the health visitor’s role. With on-going financial and other pressures on the NHS, the role of the health visitor continues to be squeezed so the level and quality of HV services suffers.

The NHS attempts to offer an excellent overall service from dedicated experts but, your choices are often restricted. For example, you may have little say about when and by whom you will be seen, and for how long. The same applies with the health visiting service. If you are lucky, you may have regular contact with the same NHS HV. More often than not you will be seen by a member of a health visiting team, which could mean they are not an experienced specialised HV, but a community staff nurse, or nursery nurse who may not have experience or time to deal with the issues that are of concern for your family

When you engage an independent health visitor you will always:

  • See a named, experienced and qualified HV of your choice who will consistently provide a high quality service.
  • Benefit from continuity of care from an experienced HV who has the time to listen and act on your family’s specific needs and requirements.
  • Have your family’s concerns regarded as paramount, including home visits as and when you need them. If necessary, this can include evenings, week-ends, and holiday periods. You could also arrange to have private clinics at either your, or friends homes to help spread the cost.
  • Be able to contact your HV out-of-hours by telephone, or email.
  • Be guaranteed that your HV will work to the highest professional standards, and will have continued with professional training and advances in child development and family dynamics.
  • Work in conjunction with your NHS GP and health visitor.