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Tories reveal health visitor plans

The Conservative Party has announced that it would expand the system of health visitors if it was elected.

Shadow children, schools and families secretary Michael Gove (pictured) said in a speech at the Tory party conference in Birmingham that he wanted to offer "practical, human-centred" measures to help people cope in "difficult times".

He said he wanted to see the health visiting service "truly universal in the best traditions of the NHS" and denied its expansion was an idea more associated with New Labour.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "We all know that it is in the first few years of a child's life that the greatest strain is placed on the family's household income.

"One of things we want to do is to say the State can be there in practical, human-centred ways to help people cope with difficult times.

"One of the things we are particularly keen to do is to expand the system of health visitors. Health visitors are almost one of the friendliest faces of the state."

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The Conservative Party

What do you think? A genuine promise or are the Tories trying to get health visitors on their side? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I do not believe this offer is genuine because having engaged in debates with parliamentary canidates I can only say the NHS has become a political football with rhetoric of preventive medicine on their lips but without any foundations or strong commitment to make it sustainable." - Jennifer Beare

"I think that the Tories are moving into public health territory that is traditionally a Labour party domain and they are trying to win votes from HVs and from the Netmums community. It is great to hear health visiting valued but I think that they are unlikely to deliver when they realise the cost of health visiting. There is need to provide increased support to families and this could be led by health visitors in a health visiting service rather than completely delivered by health visitors. It is time that childhood and parenting were recognised and valued and provided with appropriate support - this movement was started under the current government and the Tories are jumping on the bandwagon." - Deborah Futers, Cannock

"I am delighted that a politician has acknowledged the value of a universal health visiting service. Please let this be followed up with ringfenced funding if they come into power." - Joy Everitt, Melton Mowbray

"I wonder where they think these health visitors are coming from, since the present workforce is aging, many nearing retirement, training places are being cut, and posts all over the country are being frozen or cut because it seems trusts cannot afford to employ them. I would love to believe the Conservative promise, but if they do get into office I think it will rapidly be shelved and forgotten. I am a health visitor and am convinced of the value of professional support for young families especially, but the service is so reduced and diluted that we cannot deliver the support needed. Our basic aim is prevention of ill health, physical and emotional, but this is a long-term outcome, not a short term fix." - Name and address supplied

"I would suggest taking it with a pinch of salt. For those of us who have been around for a long time like me, we know they do not tell the truth." - Cath Adams, Ealing

"Having worked in the NHS for the last 31 years, many of those years under a Tory government, I would take everything they say and promise with a pinch of salt. Working in the NHS has always been challenging but during the Tory reign nurses were treated like second class citizens, career prospects were nonexistent, expectations were high with poor remuneration, and staff numbers and morale were at an all time low. On a personal note, since their demise, my working life has improved considerably, and I feel valued and rewarded for the job I do. Sadly every government will attempt to cut public spending, and the NHS is often a target. However, feeling appreciated for the job you do and encouraged to improve your skills and knowledge in order to progress in your career helps you to manage some of the challenges you may encounter." - Louise Lewis, Bradford

"At long last they are seeing the light! Let's hope they stick to their promise - the service has been allowed to die on the vine for far too long." - Anne Evans, West Sussex