Announced today (1 March 2017), the public health minister Nicola Blackwood has decided to continue the mandation of the universal 5 health visiting checks which are offered between pregnancy and up to age 2½ years, as set out in Healthy Child Programme (0 to 5).  The iHV warmly welcomes this decision.

Professor Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse at PHE, said:

“These reviews are important opportunities to support mothers’ mental health, discuss immunisations, breastfeeding and healthy diet options for babies and provide referral to any specialist services if necessary.

“We are very pleased that the government has decided to continue to mandate these vital services. We are committed to supporting local government to ensure these checks are given to every young child.”

The review into the mandation of the health visiting services was carried out by Public Health England (PHE) with information fed through from professionals and stakeholders.  PHE’s published report recommended this decision.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director at iHV, commented:

“The government has made the right decision for children, and for society, as these reviews allow health visitors to identify health needs early and to provide appropriate interventions and support to families.  However, the 5 mandated checks are the minimum that should be commissioned.  There was a strong call for mandation of the 3-4 month review and it’s a shame that government didn’t decide to act on that.

“We hope that local authority commissioners will consider ensuring that review is a part of their local programmes as this would enhance mother and infant mental health, improve the nutritional status of families, reduce accidents in the first year of life and strengthen the uptake of immunisations. The next step must be reinvestment into public health so this contact is provided for every infant.”

Viv Bennett’s blog, published today, summarises this decision.