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All GP practices to get dedicated health visitor

Every GP practice is to get a ‘named health visitor’ acting as their family liaison officer, it has been announced.

According to new guidance set to come into force from April, health visitors will need to have an ‘agreed schedule of regular contact meetings’ with the practices they cover.

It comes as local authorities are due to assume responsibility for the health visiting service, aimed at providing support to families with children up to five years old, from NHS England from October.

The service specification for 2015/16 said the rule change would ‘return a traditional link’ between practices and health visitors.

It said: ‘The service will provide a named [health visitor] for each GP practice to facilitate liaison, information sharing and joint working in the best interests of families… There will be an agreed schedule of regular contact meetings for collaborative service delivery which must be audited and actioned on a regular basis.’

Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard welcomed the news, saying: ‘What a fantastic idea. We used to know who our health visitor was and even have coffee with them once a month. Now I wouldn’t even know our health visitor if she walked in front of the car. I think it’s high time we went back to the system when we had a primary health care team – which includes health visitors.’

He further called for the role of health visitor to be expanded to also cover patients over the age of five in order to reduce GP workload.

He said: ‘We would be delighted with regular visits, it would be a chance to touch base and it doesn’t have to be a long meeting, just every week or two to say “who are the problem families? Yow can we help them? What do we need to do?” or “this family isn’t bringing any of their children for immunisations, can you go see if there are any problems there?”

‘So I’m absolutely, 100% in favour.’

The scheme follows on from the Government’s pledge of a ‘named GP’ for every patient, included in the 2015/16 GP contract.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Harry Longman

    Relationships matter for health and health care. If this helps, three cheers.
    I've become conditioned to expect arbitrary targets, tick boxes and service agreements around any change... but could this be unadulterated good?

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  • What's a health visitor? Haven't seen one for years

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  • At last some genuinely good news

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  • Need to train a few more of them alongside all these GPs and nurses. I won't hold my breath .

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  • I thought HV care for patients from cradle to grave. However, there is an anomaly in Oxfordshire , here, the HV only look after the under 5s, Won't immunise children, always passing back to Gps for any clinically related conditions, even child constipation.

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  • We meet ours every week and have done so for years. Ctical asset in child safeguarding and respected members of our primary health care team.

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  • We have just been told our health visitors can no longer attend our weekly child health clinics which they have done for the last 15 yrs and is a highly valued service which our patients love , because it is unfunded - instead we can meet with them for half an hour every couple of weeks - not really an improvement is it !

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  • No more scheduled meetings to waste precious time please. Adhoc contact re current problems and participation in baby clinic highly valued.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Why not named physiotherapist , named counsellor etc for practice(s) as well?

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  • how revolutionary- we had attached HV until the locality system was deemed is not

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