Department Health newsletter – Childhood obesity: latest update including:

  • New funding to improve school facilities and encourage healthier lifestyles
  • Health Minister Nicola Blackwood outlines how the food industry can do more to reduce sugar in products
  • How schools, local authorities and charities are reducing childhood obesity
  • New catering guidance

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce new nursing degree apprenticeship, opening up a career in nursing to more people.

The first apprentice nurses could be working on wards from September, and once established, up to 1,000 apprentice nurses could join the NHS each year.

Aspiring nurses will join the apprenticeship at different stages, depending on their qualifications and experience, and stay in work whilst learning. By offering staff who want to progress more flexibility, regardless of whether they are health care support workers or already working towards higher level qualifications, employers will be able to open up a career in nursing to people from all backgrounds.

The new nursing associate role will work alongside healthcare support workers to deliver hands on care, freeing up existing nurses so they can spend more time using their more specialist training to focus on clinical duties and take more of a lead in decisions round a patient’s care. Interest in the role has already seen Health Education England expand the number of training places on the pilot scheme increase from 1,000 to 2,000.

People who complete the nursing associate apprenticeship will be able to count that training towards a nursing degree.

The iHV supports the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s (MMHA’s) response to yesterday’s publication of the Department of Health report ‘Safer Maternity Care: Next steps towards the national maternity ambition’.

MMHA highlights the mention of perinatal mental health in the report (on page 17) – but would really like to push for mums’ mental health to be embedded across all of the actions coming out of the report. Maternity safety is not just physical health: unless women’s mental health is looked after, their and their babies’ lives could also be at risk.

Dr Cheryll Adams, Executive Director iHV said:

“iHV supports the push by MMHA to keep maternal mental health at the forefront of the government’s drive to improve maternity care.  We welcome the implementation of this plan, including maternal mental health, and call on the government to ensure that specialist mental health support is available in every maternity /health visiting service to provide support to every mother and her family who require this service.”

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, commented:

“We welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State of a Safer Maternity Care action plan and the inclusion of improvements in perinatal mental health care in this. Mental illnesses are the most common serious health complications of pregnancy and the postnatal period, and a major cause of maternal death. There has been no sign of improvement in the effects of these illnesses on mothers and their babies in the past decades, despite significant improvements in physical health outcomes.”


New measures to make giving birth safer, including maternity safety funding and publishing maternity ratings, have been announced.

In a major speech today, Jeremy Hunt unveiled a comprehensive package of measures designed to further improve the safety of maternity care in the NHS.

This will provide resources to Trusts to improve their approach to maternity safety; make sure lessons are learned from mistakes and shared openly and transparently across the NHS; and take the first steps to dismantling the litigation culture that acts as a barrier to this by consulting on a new voluntary compensation scheme as an alternative to costly legal processes for families with brain-injured children.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, commented:

“The steps announced today to improve maternity safety are significant and to be applauded.  Health visitors must be aware of them too and consider the part they can play supporting mothers during their antenatal visit.”

The safer maternity care action plan also includes:

  • a £250,000 maternity safety innovation fund to help create and pilot new ideas for improving maternity care, like the successful PROMPT scheme pioneered by Professor Tim Draycott in Southmead, which has some of the lowest child mortality rates in Europe
  • publishing new maternity ratings for every clinical commissioning group (CCG) across the NHS to improve transparency, raise standards and give families better information about the quality of local maternity services
  • a new national Maternal and Neonatal Health Quality Improvement Programme for all trusts to exchange ideas and best practice – a similar scheme in Scotland was linked to a 19% decrease in stillbirths over a 3 year period
  • a consultation to develop a ‘safe space’ to allow clinicians to speak openly about things that go wrong without fear that information they disclose may be used against them in court or professional misconduct hearings
  • the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, modelled on the highly successful Air Accident Investigation Branch, which will be up and running from April 2017

Also, announced today is a consultation on a new rapid resolution and redress (RRR) scheme. The RRR scheme could investigate and learn lessons from more than 500 incidents a year. In cases where harm was avoidable this would offer timely access to financial support without the current obligation on families to launch a formal legal process. At present, the average time families have to wait for resolution of a case is 11.5 years.

As part of the ambition to halve neonatal death, stillbirth, maternal death and brain injuries caused during or shortly after labour by 2030, the Department of Health has launched “Our Chance”, a new public health campaign in partnership with Sands and Best Beginnings.


Department of Health (DH) infographic explaining the physical activity required to achieve general health benefits from birth to age 5.


DH Physical activity infographic 0-5

DH Physical activity infographic 0-5

The Department of Health and leading national charity The Children’s Society have developed an engaging and interactive e-learning course to help healthcare professionals and partners protect and identify children and young people at risk of abuse or exploitation.

This course is designed to enable all healthcare workers to spot the signs of child sexual abuse and exploitation, and help them create an environment where young people are more likely to disclose.

The hour-long course features a powerful drama about a young boy called Tyler, and raises awareness of what to look for when healthcare professionals come into contact with a child or young person. Applying the learnings from the course will help to create a widespread change in the way children and young people experience health settings.

Once you’ve completed the eLearning module, you can also sign up to become a Seen and Heard champion and spread the word about the course to others. Just one hour of this training could change a child’s entire life for the better.

More information and resources on CSE can also be accessed via the Health Education England CSE webpage and NHS Choices.

The Children’s Society is very keen to hear back from organisations and individuals with testimonials or examples of how the training is being used. Please contact [email protected] with any feedback.

About Seen and Heard

Help change children’s lives by sharing Seen and Heard: One in 20 children in the UK has been sexually abused. Many of these children and young people want to disclose their abuse, but don’t feel they can. Commissioned by the Department of Health, The Children’s Society has produced an e-learning package for staff in all healthcare services. The package, which includes a hard hitting film, will reach more than 750,000 healthcare professionals.

Sparking organisational change: All staff working in healthcare settings should know the signs of child sexual exploitation and abuse and feel confident to step in and support a child or young person who may be at risk. The training was designed with the Department of Health as part of their Child Sex Abuse strategy to change organisational culture and practice. Healthcare workers will be able to look beyond the symptoms children and young people present with to see if there are underlying issues. By picking up incidents of abuse and exploitation sooner, pressure will be relieved on the healthcare system, and ultimately, the criminal justice system too.

Young people at the heart: Children and young people were involved from the beginning in its development. The Children’s Society made sure the experts, children and young people themselves were at the heart of the training. They found out what it’s like to be a child or young person accessing health services. The aim is to make sure professionals in health settings and beyond make children and young people who have been exploited or abused feel welcomed, at ease and able to disclose what they’ve been through.

‘The Institute of Health Visiting supports the petition to keep the voice of nursing in the Department of Health.

Nursing is the largest professional health group, so to lose its voice in the Department of Health can only be counter-productive to progress in health visiting, nursing and midwifery, and in turn to the health of the population.

As an organisation we have been able to achieve so much good due the support of those in the DH nursing directorate, we hence really fear the consequences of losing the direct nursing voice in policy.

Please support this petition for a parliamentary debate to reconsider this decision.’

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE –  Please sign and share on behalf of your profession and those you serve.

The Department of Health (DH) is seeking views on the proposed changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s midwifery regulation and fitness to practise processes.

The government has proposed changes to current the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s governing legislation through changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001.

These proposed changes will:

  • remove statutory midwifery supervision provisions, which will result in a clear separation of the roles and purpose of the supervision and regulation of midwives
  • remove the statutory Midwifery Committee from the NMC’s governance structures.
  • make improvements to the NMC’s fitness to practise processes to enable further improvements and deal with cases in a more appropriate manner

This consultation closes at 11:45pm on

Dr Cheryll Adams, executive director of the iHV, said:

These proposed changes will have an impact on those health visitors who were direct entry midwives – for the better.  It will mean that they don’t have to go through a second tier of fitness to practise.


Since March 2015 the Department of Health has asked all Health Visiting teams in England to use ASQ-3 as part of children’s health and development reviews at age 2-2½. Using ASQ-3 helps health visitors to make an overall assessment of a child’s development. It supports identification of developmental delay, leading to effective early intervention and support for children to be ready for learning and school.

Building blocksInitial data about the use of ASQ-3 as part of two year reviews is very encouraging with NHS England figures showing that 79% of two year reviews in Q1 of 2015-16 included an ASQ-3 assessment.

The next step is for health visiting teams to report ASQ-3 scores to the HSCIC children’s data set on a monthly basis. This will enable ASQ-3 scores to be collected and reported at national as well as local level, providing the basis for the population measure of child development at age 2-2½, to be included in the Public Health Outcomes Framework from 2017. The population measure will help local areas to assess the impact of services for 0-2 year olds and inform local commissioning.

For further information, please contact HSIC