The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) publishes a pathway for a career in health visiting.

Across all UK nations, governments are looking to build a health and care workforce fit for the future. This includes responding to changes in our population’s needs and investing in prevention and public health to ensure that people can live longer, healthier and happier lives. There is also much greater awareness of the evidence for investing in the earliest years of life as a critical period to build strong foundations for future health and reduce the risks for diseases that are largely preventable – it is clear that health visitors are needed now more than ever.

But, at the same time, we have significant workforce shortages in health visiting, which is impacting on parents’ experience, service capacity and constrains our ability to transform services to improve support for families with babies and young children. Rebuilding the workforce will take time. The solution rests on building worthwhile and attractive career opportunities in health visiting at all levels – whether practitioners are just entering the field or looking to progress in the profession to more senior roles.

Our career pathway sets out health visiting career options. It draws on the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan’s priorities to “train, retain and reform” in order to build workforce capacity and capability and support practitioners to have worthwhile careers in health visiting.

Health visiting is a form of public health practice dedicated to creating good health. Health visitors embrace strengths-focused relational approaches and take account of the setting and circumstances impacting on a person’s life. These features, and the primary goal of health creation, define health visiting as a distinctive form of nursing and is an area of public health within which a whole career can be grown.

The Career Pathway for Health Visiting has been designed as a resource for workforce planning.  It includes the different job roles contributing to health visiting provision and maps these against levels of practice that reflect registration status, educational development, expertise, and responsibility.

The downward trend in total health visitor workforce numbers in England needs urgently addressing (see our news story Health visiting in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan: In brief). The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan published in June 2023 signals a commitment to address the shortfall, which needs action not only on recruitment but also retention. The iHV recognises the use of skill mix roles and has developed the career pathway with entry and progression in mind. It sets out possibilities for movement towards a health visitor qualification and beyond, through advanced practice.

The imperative is for employers to invest in new talent and harness expertise whilst helping individuals see where their ambition can take them when health visiting is their chosen career.

More details about the Career Pathway in Health Visiting will be shared by Dr Karen Whittaker at the iHV Leadership conference on 6 December 2023 – an event that can be joined in-person or online (in-person ticket sales close Friday 24 November). See for booking details.

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The Secretary of State for Education has issued a notice to extend the temporary changes to the law on what provision has to be made currently for those children & young people with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

The temporary changes to the law have been in force since 1 May and are now extended to 30 June. Once the notice expires, the Secretary of State can issue a further notice for a period of up to a month if it would be appropriate and proportionate to do so in the context of coronavirus.

The Department for Education (DfE) will keep this under close review.

DfE has also taken the opportunity to publish an updated version of Changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus.

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), alongside 5 health organisations, is delighted to publish the new Recommended National Curriculum for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing – Health Visiting/School Nursing (0-19 child public health nursing services).

The Recommended National Curriculum is a consensus statement of the overarching knowledge, skills and attributes that can be expected of Specialist Community Public Health Nurses delivering health visiting and school nursing services to families, children and young people from age 0-19.  It is the product of a consensus-building partnership between the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), Unite/Community Practitioner Health Visitor Association (CPHVA), United Kingdom Standing Conference (UKSC), National Forum of School Health Educators (NFSHE), School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Recommended National Curriculum

Developed for use by curriculum developers and providers of health visitor education including higher education institutes, private providers, charities and other voluntary sector organisations, amongst many others, the Curriculum provides authoritative evidence-based guidance applicable across the whole UK in the context of rapid change in policy and practice, fragmentation of services and inconsistency in delivery.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director at the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“Parents, children and young people consistently highly rank having good access to a health visitor or school nurse as being important as a source of advice and support due to their reliable knowledge and expertise on the health issues that matter to them.  The publication of this Recommended National Curriculum provides a consensus statement of the overarching knowledge, skills and attributes for nurses to be educated and trained to deliver this specialist level of community public health nursing across the UK. The partners collaborating in the development of this curriculum commend its use to commissioners and providers of health visiting and school nursing education and services, and to the NMC as it reviews its Standards of Proficiency.”

The Recommended National Curriculum provides a firm basis for future developments in individual higher education institutions and also at a national level, when the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) proceeds with its Programme of Change for Education and reviews the Standards for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing.

The curriculum also endorses health visiting and school nursing as a distinctive level and form of practice that warrants regulation, to assure the public of the professional standards that they can expect of registrants prepared for and practising as health visitors and school nurses.

Information Sharing Matters is a free education programme designed for the early years workforce and healthcare professionals about information sharing in early years.

An RCPCH/ 4Children project , it is a free educational resource that aims to empower families and professsionals to share information about children safely and effectively. This is a significant issue for anyone working with young children, and health visitors are at the very fore of this work.

Information Sharing Matters is designed to improve your knowledge, skills and understanding of the benefits of effectively sharing information in a professional context. It is made up of online and face-to-face resources supporting the training of individuals and multidisciplinary teams.

On completion of this programme you will be able to:

  • explain what information can and cannot be shared in a context of integrated working
  • describe the range of benefits to children and families related to information sharing, with a focus on improving outcomes
  • use and share good practice with your colleagues and between individuals and organisations
  • support improved information sharing, helping to build trust between professionals and improving outcomes for young children and their families


Two new e-publications on preconception health, education and care in Scotland.  These e-publications are intended to raise awareness about preconception health, education and care, particularly within the Scottish context. This, it is hoped, will lead to many positive actions (large and small; national, local and individual) that prospective mothers and fathers across Scotland find informative, valuable, empowering and supportive as they make their decisions about parenthood. While individual choices are crucial, it also is the case that larger societal forces, political choices and structural issues can powerfully shape what is true for individuals and couples.

The main report “Missed Periods: Scotland’s opportunities for better pregnancies, healthier parents and thriving babies the first time . . . and every time” is a 45-page evidence-based report (including links to extensive references and international resources).

A brief version of this report “Prepared for Pregnancy?: Preconception health, education and care in Scotland” is an introduction and overview of the above more detailed report.  This also includes the advance reviews by a leading public health professor in Scotland and the senior advisor on preconception health to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood (herself an obstetrician) also reviewed this report in advance and has been publicly supportive of it.

These two e-publications were commissioned by NHS GG&C’s Public Health Director, Dr Linda de Caestecker.



The iHV has written this position statement on their views on what the future of health visitor education should look like and in particular how it could be strengthened but also what the blocks to doing that are.