To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has in place to tackle the variation in the (a) quality of health visiting services and (b) delivery of the Health Child Programme among local authorities in England.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to measure the adequacy of the health visitor workforce to implement the Healthy Child Programme.
The Government wants children to get the best start in life, recognising the lasting impact this has on health outcomes and life chances. The Department is working in partnership with Public Health England, the National Health Service and Local Government Association to modernise the Healthy Child Programme, with an initial focus on the first 1,001 days and early years, to improve a range of childhood outcomes including early development and school readiness. Health visitors, with other professionals, have an essential role supporting babies and their families.
The Interim People Plan, published in June, sets out the vision for people who work in the NHS to enable them to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. Within this are specific plans for supporting community nurses, through growing pre-registration clinical placement capacity, a clear emphasis on high-quality learning experiences being provided within community settings. There is also a clear commitment to work with partners to identify how to support growth in the community workforce including district nursing, general practice nursing, health visitors and school nursing.
A Specialist Community and Public Health Nurse apprenticeship (Level 7) is currently in development. This will offer an alternative route directly into the health visiting profession. There are also nursing apprenticeship pathways currently in place to become a Registered Nurse, following which an individual has the option to choose to complete a postgraduate course to go onto qualify as a health visitor.