The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved new Standards for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) on 26 May 2022 and they are now published. The iHV welcomes these standards that set out expectations for future health visitors and build on the evidence base for preventative public health for babies, children and their families. The NMC engaged with many practitioners and organisations in the development of the standards, and we are pleased that inputs from the iHV and our members have been taken on board.


Here, we consider some of the key features, offering answers to common questions:


Why are the new NMC standards important?

They establish standards on an up-to-date evidence base to meet the future public health challenges and opportunities to impact health outcomes across the life-course.

They establish the distinctive knowledge and skills of health visitors that exceed those of the ‘Future Nurse’ Standards of proficiency for registered nurses (NMC, 2018) so that the public can be confident of who health visitors are and what to expect of them.


What are the key differences from the previous NMC (2004) standards for SCPHN?

Proficiencies for Practice

The previous standards did not have field specific proficiencies. They lacked meaning for families who value knowing their health visitor and want to be confident that all health visitors have the skills and knowledge to support family health in real world circumstances.

The proficiencies set out in the new standards are structured differently from the previous proficiencies. The four ‘domains’ are now replaced by six ‘spheres of influence’ that reflect the significant leadership role of SCPHNs in their autonomous practice. Two of the spheres are shared with other SCPHNs (school nurses and occupational health nurses) while the other four spheres formulate proficiencies for each of the respective fields of HV, SN and OHN.

Student Supervision and Assessment

Standards for student supervision and assessment are now separate from the proficiencies. This signals the discontinuation of the NMC approved and recorded Practice Teacher qualification. ‘Standards for post-registration programmes’ are also published separately from the Standards of Proficiency providing some strengthening of the application of the standards for student supervision and assessment to SCPHN programmes. This reflects some of the concerns that the standards for student supervision and assessment were not sufficiently robust for the needs of SCPHN students that the iHV expressed in our response to the NMC’s formal consultation in summer 2021. The iHV has further supported the Queens Nursing Institute in the development of additional standards for community practice teaching to support a more consistent and effective approach to teaching and assessment of SCPHN and community specialist practice students.

Programmes of Learning

Overall, the standards aim to support local partners in education to adopt flexible and innovative approaches and programme standards are accordingly somewhat less prescriptive than previously. For example, Approved Education Institutes (AEIs) must:

  • ensure that the curriculum provides a balance of theory and practice learning opportunities. There is no specified minimum number of practice days, though the ratio of theory to practice must be justified. This means that AEIs and partners could, if they desire, design programmes with different theory/practice ratios for different categories of SCPHN programme entrant, so long as each ratio of learning is adequately justified.
  • ensure programmes are of a suitable length (but no less than 45 weeks for full time programmes) to support student achievement. Previously SCPHN programmes were required to be 52 weeks long with 45 programmed weeks.
  • design and validate all programmes at postgraduate level.
  • make it clear how each route of the SCPHN programme is sufficiently differentiated with staff resources to match.


How will they be implemented and how can I be involved?

The new Standards for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) will come into effect on 1 September 2022.  Approved Education Institutions (AEIs, typically universities) will need to develop and validate their curricula with practice partners to meet the new Standards to be ready for delivery no later than 1 September 2024.


Practice Partners, Practice Supervisors and Assessors

Practice partners (employers) will need to work with AEIs on the new curriculum and particularly on the provision of suitable learning opportunities in practice. The field specific proficiencies are considerably more detailed than previously and so Practice Supervisors and Assessors will need to scope learning opportunities and assessment strategies.

Many Health Visitors have reported in iHV surveys that they are challenged to exercise their autonomy and leadership in the context of service pressures. This will require capacity and capability building for Practice Assessors and Supervisors locally to realise the ambition of the new standards.



After 31 August 2024, all new students must be registered on the new programme. Existing students are able to continue with the programme they started at point of registration.

Students starting SCPHN programmes approved against the new 2022 standards can expect their learning in practice and academic contexts to be guided by the focused set of proficiencies. The range, depth and ambition of the proficiencies could seem rather daunting. This will require all partners to profile learning needs, plan learning opportunities and devise proportionate assessment strategies, emphasizing again the crucial practice teaching skills, knowledge and leadership of Practice Assessors and Supervisors.





















NMC logo

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has announced it is ready to approve its new standards of proficiency for future specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN) – including standards for health visiting, community nursing specialist practice qualifications (SPQs) and associated programme standards. Alongside representatives from all professional bodies, the iHV has worked closely with the NMC over the last two and a half years as part of their collaborative programme of work to develop the new post-registration standards.

The NMC states that:

“The new standards are intended to reflect the changing landscape and ambition for the care and treatment of people in the community. The new standards are an opportunity for more professionals to develop a greater depth of knowledge and broader skills that really reflect the complexity, responsibility and diversity of modern community nursing and public health nursing practice”.

The iHV also contributed to the consultation of the draft standards which ran from April to August 2021 and received 2,363 responses – including from nurses, health visitors, members of the public and organisations. The NMC highlighted that the responses were ‘predominantly positive’ with a ‘small number of suggested improvements’ required.

The NMC has refined the SCPHN standards and has made a prescribing qualification optional, as well as strengthening aspects around mental health, wellbeing, leading services, managing risk, safeguarding, infant nutrition, and cultural competence.

The final draft standards have now been agreed and will be taken before the NMC’s governing council for approval on 26 May. The papers ahead of the meeting of the Council on 26 May can be found here.

The finalised standards are expected to be published in the next few weeks. The NMC is also seeking approval from Council to consult on proposed changes to our pre-registration education programme standards. These standards ensure that nursing and midwifery programmes support students to learn and achieve the knowledge and skills that they’ll need to become registered professionals, and to deliver safe, effective and kind care.

Professor Geraldine Walters, Executive Director of professional practice at the NMC, said:

“These new co-produced post-registration standards will give professionals the additional knowledge, skills, and aptitude they need to provide specialist support and care to people in their homes and in the community. Council approval of the standards would mark a significant milestone toward more modern, effective care for people in community settings and improved public health for our wider communities.”

iHV publishes its response to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) online consultation on Draft standards for post-registration nursing including Specialist Community Public Health Nursing – health visiting.

We welcome the development of proficiencies specific to the three SCPHN fields of health visiting, school nursing and occupational health nursing. We believe that this is an important strengthening of the regulatory status of health visiting so that the public can have assurances of what can be expected of a SCPHN health visitor. We also set out some additional recommendations for enhancements of the draft proficiencies themselves.

We believe that the proposed new standards provide a timely opportunity to re-envision health visiting and Specialist Community Public Health Nursing. We are committed to build on the strength of evidence in support of the vital contribution SCPHN health visitors make to improving the health and life chances of people across the life-course from its earliest days in their families, communities where they live, learn and work at a time of widening inequalities and persistent as well as new public health challenges.

We strongly encourage all health visitors and others with an interest in child and family public health to take the opportunity to make their own responses to the NMC consultation and we hope that, by publishing our response, this will assist health visitors and others to consider their own responses to the consultation. The closing date for responses to the consultation is 2 August 2021.

Please also see our Voices Blog on ‘Future Health Visiting – summarising the key issues.








Last week the NMC launched its consultation on draft standards for community and specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN). These set the expectations of future health visitors along with school nurses and occupational health nursing. The new NMC standards offer the opportunity to build on the advances in the evidence base for universal child and family health visiting for the pressing public health challenges of our times. It is vitally important that the views of health visitors are heard and shape these new standards.

The NMC is providing opportunities to be informed of the issues, to ask questions and to take part in the consultation. We encourage all health visitors to take up these opportunities.

iHV members can also shape the iHV’s response by joining us at our forthcoming iHV networking events for members which will focus on the NMC consultation:

iHV Student Networking Event – Future health visiting: Next steps for me and the profession

21 May 2021 (for student health visitor iHV members only) 

In our first “iHV Student Networking Event” on 21 May, we will explore the crucial first year and preceptorship; and we will share views on the draft NMC standards for the Future SCPHN-health visiting.

Your experiences matter and  will help us to formulate our response to the NMC’s consultation on the proposed standards. We have invited a short input from the NMC as well as from a practitioner with recent experience of preceptorship.

This webinar is for iHV Student Members ONLY. To book on, you will need your iHV membership number to access the tickets.

Practice Education Networking Event – Future health visiting: Next steps for the profession

16 June 2021 (open to all iHV members)

In our second “Practice Education Networking Event” on 16 June, we extend a wide invitation to all our iHV members who have an interest in education and standards for future health visitors. This too will help us to formulate our response to the NMC’s consultation on the proposed standards and we have invited a short input from the NMC as well as from a current Lead Practice Teacher / Assessor – health visitor.

This webinar is for iHV Members ONLY. To book on, you will need your iHV membership number to access the tickets.

Where can I find more information on the consultation?

We encourage all health visitors (whether you are an iHV member or not) to take the time to read the NMC consultation documents.

The new standards are intended to equip future health visitors to meet the public health needs of the future.

The four principles of health visiting formulated in 1977, and later included in current standards of proficiency for SCPHN have stood the test of time. Now is the time to consider whether the draft standards:

  • Provide a compelling vision for the future of health visiting across the four nations of the UK;
  • Proposed six ‘spheres of influence’ are pitched at the right level and are relevant to emerging health needs and the evidence base for practice;
  • ‘Field-specific’ proficiencies for health visiting capture the distinctive knowledge, skills and attributes required for future health visitors;
  • Will command the support of the profession; and
  • Will help service users and employers to know what can be expected of the SCPHN health visitor.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has launched their public consultation for specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) standards – building on ambitions for community and public health nursing.

The new NMC standards offer the opportunity to build on the advances in the evidence base for universal child and family health visiting for the pressing public health challenges of our times. It is vitally important that the views of health visitors are heard and shape these new standards.

We will be responding from the iHV – as well as submitting your own response, look out for our mailings on ways that you can help shape the iHV’s response.


The standards, for specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) and specialist practice qualifications (SPQs), will equip the next generation of community and public health nurses working in health and social care with the right proficiencies to care for people in a rapidly changing world.

These essential education standards were last updated over 15 years ago. But we need fit for purpose standards that reflect the realities of modern nursing in health and social care now

These draft standards, which have been co-produced with subject experts, will provide the right proficiencies these professionals need to support and care for people in a rapidly changing world.

The consultation will run until Monday 2 August 2021. Normally these NMC consultations run for 12 weeks but they’ve extended this one to more than 16 weeks to give you and your colleagues more time to take part given the continued pressures on services caused by the pandemic.

As part of the review of all of educational standards, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is now focusing on post-registration qualifications – starting by looking at the post-registration qualifications relating to community and primary care.

To understand what’s important and to get them right, they need your input.

Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN)

Nurses who work in public health are working in the most challenging public health crisis for generations. NMC is currently reviewing their existing Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) post-registration standards to ensure they equip these practitioners with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to lead and deliver care, now and in the future.

They’ll be developing new standards of proficiency for health visiting, school nursing and occupational health nursing fields of SCPHN practice, and the standards for universities who wish to deliver programmes leading to these qualifications.

Specialist practice qualifications (SPQ)

NMC is also developing new standards of proficiency that will lead to a specialist practice qualification in community nursing. These nurses are the lynchpin of primary and community care as they lead, support and deliver care to people of all ages, many of whom have complex mental, physical and social care needs, often when they’re at their most vulnerable.

NMC wants to hear from you

NMC wants these new standards to be ambitious and transformative, and knows that they’ll only achieve that by working collaboratively with you. They need to draw on your experience and expertise, and to hear a diverse range of views from all backgrounds.

NMC has arranged a series of webinars where you can find out more and send your feedback on what’s important and what these new standards should cover.

Please register for the webinar(s) that interest you by clicking on the links. Please also share with anyone in your networks who may also be interested:

SPQ webinar Time and date Register

SCPHN webinars Time and date Register

  • Future specialist public health nursing: SCPHN core standards (for school nurses, occupational health nurses and health visitors): 29 June 2020, 12:00 – 13:00.

You can also test to see if your system is ready to access our webinars.

Can’t make the webinars?

To find out more about the review please visit the NMC website and send them some feedback on the questions they’re asking at this early stage of engagement. There will be other opportunities to get involved as NMC develops the standards.

If you have any queries, or wish to get involved in helping NMC to develop the new standards, please email [email protected]

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has announced a further extension of revalidation periods because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It had already announced earlier this year that nurses and midwives due to revalidate from March to June 2020 would have a further three months to complete revalidation.

Registrants due to revalidate from July onwards can request a three-month extension and, after that, a further three-month extension may be allowed if the individual can demonstrate a valid reason.

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) is pleased to announce a new training programme and an updated handbook designed to assist health visitors going through their Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revalidation.

It is now almost 18 months since the launch of NMC revalidation supporting the professional registration and license to practise as health visitors. It is estimated that almost half of registered health visitors are still to revalidate and may not yet have given much thought to the process. So, to support those health visitors still to undergo revalidation for the first time, the Institute has developed new training and updated resources to help them through the process.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“Revalidation is a welcome way to support and develop health visitors’ practise – thereby ensuring the standards of our profession. We collected feedback from our Fellows and iHV team members who have already undertaken revalidation, and developed a new workshop to help all health visitors with their revalidation requirements.

“Our popular ‘Route to Revalidation’ handbook has also been updated to keep it in line with NMC guidance. We hope these new resources will guide and inspire those who are to undergo revalidation.

“The workshops are relaxed and informal – the first one takes place on 9 October in London.  This workshop will go through the process of revalidation and the paperwork required, and offer iHV tools and guidance specifically developed for health visitors working in all areas of practice, whether clinical, managerial, teaching or research. It will also provide the opportunity to share any concerns, check facts, and the chance to complete part of the requirements for revalidation whilst in a supportive environment.”


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.