This site is intended for health professionals only

Health visitors review could be 'difficult' for Wales

The Nursing and Midwifery Council's decision to review the third part of the register could prove to be a "difficult challenge" for Wales, it is claimed.

Polly Ferguson, a nursing officer at the Welsh Assembly Government, told NiP that a decision to alter the health visitors' role to restrict the care to pre-school infants could widen the gap in 'cradle to grave care'.

It could effectively pull the role of health visitors in terms of their care for older people and leave them solely caring for infants, said Ferguson.

The NMC could go to colleges and say that the learning needs to be redistributed - they either do both (infant care and elderly care) or pick one.

The Welsh government is currently researching the role of the health visitor in the care of the elderly. Ferguson believes their increased inclusion in such care would be "valuable".

A source told NiP that England are more "happy" than Wales to put "all their eggs in one basket", believing if the care of pre-school aged children is carried out correctly, then the rest is "remedied".

Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC confirmed the regulation of health visiting in the UK is to be "positively reformed" as part of a programme of work "emphasising the vital role of health visitors and other specialist community public health nurses."

It was also confirmed that the 'revitalisation' of health visiting will require a review of the third part of the register.

"The developing consensus is that health visiting should be concerned with promoting and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of children, young people and families whilst acknowledging that protection is an integral part of the role," he said.

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Health visitors are so bogged down with child protection issues, and the number of professionals have been so depleted in recent years that it is a nonsense to expect them to involve themselves with the elderly. District nurses and social workers have very much been involved in elderly care and do a good job. Levels of stress within health visiting are at an all time high, so with the drive to use staff to their best strengths and with value for money, it would seem the best decision that  they choose one area to be involved and continue to do that with the expertise and professionalism they have built up" - Lesley Hutton, N Ireland

"When I trained as a Health Visitor and during the course of my work I had an elderly as well as a children/families case load. Over the years many of the enjoyable parts of Health Visiting have been given to other professionals in statutory and voluntary organisations. I recently returned to health visiting to find that most of my time is spent in task-oriented work based around vulnerable children and families. I miss the
more rounded view that having elderly included in the caseload brings. Unfortunately Health Visitors are fewer, caseloads are bigger and more complex and managers are keen to have skill mix as this will reduce service costs. The community is losing out on valuable skills and staff are becoming much more limited in experience as a result. Despite all the research which clearly identifies the importance of a named Health Visitor
and the drive for evidence and research based practice, the name of the game now is cut the cost, not improve the service. How sad" - Deirdre Graham, Scotland