Public Health England would like to understand parents’ views and experiences of healthy weight or healthy lifestyle services for children and families in their local area.

text about a survey

As part of a one-year programme, some local councils have been awarded new funding to increase their provision of healthy weight or healthy lifestyle services for children and families. For example, support to eat healthier and be more physically active which might include a referral to a local programme or group. Areas were selected following a competitive application process.

A short online survey has been developed to capture parents’ views of existing services in local areas to inform future investment.

Calling all HVs, please share the link with parents who might be happy to help with this. Please share attached information sheet and the link.

Learning from this survey will help improve services to ensure that all children have an opportunity to be healthy, no matter where they live.

Unfortunately there is a tight time line to generate and analyse results, as the insights are intended to feed into the upcoming bidding process for this year’s Spending Review – so responses are needed by Friday 30 July .


This year’s remit letter from Jo Churchill (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care) to Michael Brodie, Chief Executive at Public Health England (PHE), was published today confirming PHE’s strategic remit priorities for 2021 as an Executive Agency of the Department of Health and Social Care.

In the letter, the Minister thanks PHE’s staff for their vital role in protecting and improving the public’s health since the agency was formed in 2013 and, in particular, for their contributions to the pandemic response stating:

COVID-19 represents the greatest health challenge in living memory. Everyone working in PHE has shown extraordinary dedication in the face of this global challenge and your work has, and continues to have, a tremendous impact”.

The letter also builds on the Government’s plans to strengthen the public health system, including this year’s ongoing transitioning to new public health arrangements with the establishment of the United Kingdom Health Security Agency and the new Office for Health Promotion (OHP).

PHE will continue to respond to the wider health impacts of COVID-19, as well as acting on the following key priorities:

  • Reducing health inequalities
  • Obesity, healthy weight and nutrition
  • Mental health
  • Tackling health harms
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Early years
  • Public health reforms

We are delighted to see that the Early Years are once again formally acknowledged as a priority for the Government as a key part of their plan to reduce health inequalities. The remit letter also recognises the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children’s health and development, especially those children and young people identified as vulnerable within the Vulnerability Framework.

The key early years priorities for 2021/22 include:

  • Modernisation of the Healthy Child Programme, with a focus on speech, language and communication, and intensive parenting support to contribute to reducing health inequalities.
  • Contributing evidence to Leadsom’s Early Years Review for maternity and the first 2 years.
  • Improving the evidence and developing training to support a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle during pregnancy and during early years (0 to 5).
  • Supporting the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the evaluation of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire digitalisation programme, and provide data and analytical support for contract negotiations.

Georgina Mayes who has recently joined the iHV as Policy and Quality Lead said:

“I am delighted to see the Government’s renewed clear commitment to the early years with prioritisation of levelling up to ensure that no child is left behind. This work to reduce inequalities and improve outcomes for all children cannot start soon enough. Health visitors, as leaders of the Healthy Child Programme, will be central to the delivery of these plans through their universal reach into all families. We look forward to working closely with PHE to support the translation of these priorities into practice.”

iHV welcomes yesterday’s publication of PHE guidance on Care continuity between midwifery and health visiting services: principles for practice.

The PHE guidance document is designed to act as a tool to support local practice implementation and improvements in the care continuity between midwifery and health visiting services. It was developed based on a literature search of current research, an examination of current UK guidance and policy and interviewing midwives and health visitors working in Local Maternity Systems. The document provides evidence and practice examples to consider when improving quality of care through effective transition of information and collaborative practice between midwifery and health visiting services.

Alison Morton, Executive Director at the Institute of Health Visiting, commented:

“We support and welcome this new guidance from Public Health England on the care continuity between midwifery and health visiting.

“We know from our iHV annual surveys that continuity of care and building trusting relationships with parents is critical for delivering good support in the first 1001 days. Improving the quality of care for parents and their babies throughout their maternity journey, through the effective sharing of information and collaborative practice between midwifery and health visiting services, will help ensure that consistent and evidence-based information is given. Continuity of care, as well as continuity of carer (they are not the same thing), between midwifery and health visiting is crucial to ensure that health visitors provide safe and personalised care – tailored to each family’s individual needs.”

Clare Livingstone, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“This will be a valuable resource for midwives and health visitors in facilitating women to have the smoothest possible journey throughout and beyond their pregnancy. The point at which women’s care is transferred from midwives to health visitors, at around 10-14 days after the birth, is a critical point in that journey. This toolkit will support a better and more efficient handover of care, joining up the two services and ensuring care continuity for women and their babies.”

Health visitors across England are to be trained to use a toolkit which can identify very young children with speech, language and communication problems. They will use a simple word list and child observation – known as the Early Language Identification Measure (ELIM) – during routine home visits when children are aged between two and two-and-a-half years.

Research shows the ELIM can identify 94% of toddlers with early language needs. Numerous research studies have shown that children with delayed language development do worse at school and have poorer outcomes later in life. It can also signal other developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Early Language Identification Measure (ELIM) and intervention was successfully piloted in five areas – Derbyshire, Middlesbrough, Newham, Wakefield and Wiltshire – and will help make sure that families who need more help are identified and supported appropriately and in a timely way.

The research, led by Newcastle University and including Aberdeen University, the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Unit and the Institute of Health Visiting, was published in a new Public Health England report – Identifying and supporting children’s early language needs Summary report.

Vicky Gilroy, Projects and Evaluation Lead at Institute of Health Visiting, commented:

“The Institute of Health Visiting is delighted to have contributed to this exciting research and the development of the Early Language Identification Measure and Intervention. This work builds on the health visitor Speech Language and Communication training that the iHV was commissioned to deliver by PHE last year, where we designed and delivered training to over 1000 health visitors to cascade to their local teams.

“With a more robust tool to support health visitors in their practice, early intervention and support can be offered to families to promote speech language and communication, alongside offering tailored interventions to support those with needs.”

Public Health England will roll out training to support health visitors in using the new Early Language Identification Measure (ELIM) and intervention tool alongside their wider guidance on Best Start in Speech, Language and Communication.

  • Guidance to help improve SLC in the early years, including an Early Language Identification Measure and Intervention tool for use with children aged 2 to 2 and a half.

PHE SLC Health Visitor Sessional Trainer Band 7 Secondment Opportunity – closing date midnight on 11 Nov 2020

The National Nursing, Midwifery and Early Years directorate in Public Health England (PHE) is looking to recruit Health Visitor Sessional Trainers, on a band 7 secondment opportunity, as part of the PHE Best Start in Speech Language and Communication (SLC) Programme.

They are seeking applications from motivated and enthusiastic individuals who will focus on the coordination and delivery of virtual training to frontline health visitors and early years practitioners across England, focusing on the use of a new early language identification measure and intervention and provide feedback to national leads.

The roles will support the dissemination of a package of new guidance and materials aimed at supporting speech, language and communication development locally.

Please see attached Job Description.

The role: To deliver national training sessions to health visiting teams and early years practitioners on the use of a new SLC early language identification measure and intervention for the 2-2.5 year review.

Essential to apply: Has previously completed the PHE/DfE speech, language and communication 1 day train-the-trainer programme from the Institute of Health Visiting (between 2018 and 2019), and was involved in cascading the speech, language and communication training.

Working days: 1-3 a month

Agenda for Change: Band 7

Dates: 7 December 2020 – 31 March 2021

Induction and Training: To take place early December 2020

Funding: Back fill will be provided to your organisation for your secondment days.

To apply: Please send your CV and supporting statement of no more than 500 words by midnight on 11 Nov 2020  to [email protected].

The supporting statement should include:

    • How your experience matches the requirements of the person specification
    • The personal development you expect to gain if successful in the role

Interview Date:  Week of 16 November 2020

For further information or an informal discussion about the post, please contact Pauline Bigwood at [email protected]

Public Health England statement on PHE warning: face coverings for babies and very young children

Professor Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse at Public Health England (PHE) said:

“PHE has been made aware that face coverings for babies and very young children are available for sale in England. Guidance is clear that children under the age of three years should not wear face coverings or masks, these masks should not be used as they are potentially dangerous and can cause choking and suffocation.

If you or your child is unwell with the symptoms of COVID-19, then you should get a test and stay at home until you get the result. If you are worried then you should call 111 or speak to your doctor.”


  • Children aged under three years of age should not wear face coverings or masks
  • Wearing face coverings/masks is not compulsory in any public setting for children aged 3-11
  • We advise adults and children over the age of 11 years to wear face masks in enclosed public spaces where it is difficult to socially distance. This may help prevent transmission of virus to someone else if you are infected but do not yet have symptoms
  • Any adult or child with symptoms should self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance and get tested.

Public Health England (PHE) is conducting an evidence review on social prescribing approaches for migrant populations in England in collaboration with University College London (UCL) and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Social prescribing is a major component of the NHS England Long Term Plan and Universal Personalised Care. It is defined by the NHS as a method by which referrals from primary care professionals and local agencies, as well as self-referrals, are made to link workers, who in turn connect individuals with community, voluntary, statutory and other sector services intended to improve holistic health and wellbeing.

Social prescribing models can include:

  • direct referrals from primary health care, social care or local agencies made to link workers, facilitators, coordinators and navigators in the UK, who in turn assist individuals in reaching services and activities
  • self-referral to link workers, facilitators, coordinators and navigators in the UK, who in turn assist individuals in reaching services and activities
  • signposting from health care, social care or local agencies to services and activities

They would like:

  • information published between 1 January 2000 and 1 May 2020
  • unpublished information related to research carried out between 1 January 2000 and 1 May 2020, including any ongoing research
  • reports that summarise or collate migrants’ lived experiences, for example, organisational reports or internal evaluations of projects or services (the views, experiences and opinions of individual professionals, researchers, commentators or patients will not be included, however)

They are especially interested in the following outcomes for key area 2:

  • improved self-esteem and confidence
  • greater sense of control and empowerment
  • reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • improved knowledge and skills
  • improved social connectivity

This consultation closes at

We have received numerous enquiries from health visitors asking for greater clarity for the health visiting service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Institute is doing all we can to expedite this information for the profession and have a dedicated COVID-19 section of our website which we are using to provide updates as and when they are received. However, at the moment the content still lacks this much needed detail for health visitors’ roles.

We have contacted Public Health England, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health to highlight the need for advice to manage the numerous queries that we are receiving from health visitors, including service leads around emergency planning and escalation for the health visiting service – things like, “should we carry on with universal contacts?” “Will I be redeployed? And if so, when?” “What about families who have safeguarding concerns or high levels of vulnerability?” “Am I in a priority key-worker group?” etc…

The latest update that we have received from Public Health England is that the NHS is leading on drafting guidance on community services including health visiting. PHE and local government have provided advice and we are awaiting publication.  We will alert our members and followers when we receive advice that it has been published – hopefully very soon. As there is considerable pressure and pace within the healthcare system due to the pandemic, we suggest that you also keep a look out on the government COVID-19 update web pages and contact your local commissioner and Director of Public Health who will be coordinating the response to the NHS guidance in your area.

Our position at the iHV is that we need to support the government-led decisions (nationally and locally) rather than issuing our own guidance which may cause confusion and mixed messages at this time when clarity is needed.

We will continue to do all that we can to help.

A big thank you to everyone working in health visiting at this time. You are all doing an amazing job during the uncertainties of the COVID-19 situation – it is comforting to know that we have great teams of people who care so much about the communities they work in, and the health and wellbeing of families.

iHV is delighted to be a supporting partner in the PHE Consensus Statement: Supporting professionals to have healthier weight conversations.

iHV is 1 of 14 professional organisations for the public health workforce who have currently agreed to be listed as demonstrating commitment to taking action to prevent and reduce childhood obesity.

This consensus statement describes the intent to work together to maximise support for population behaviour change and includes a core set of principles which outline how professional organisations can support the public health workforce to help individuals and communities significantly reduce their risk of obesity in order to support the national ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030.

Public Health England has launched new free All Our Health bite-sized e-learning sessions to improve the knowledge, confidence and skills of all health and care professionals in preventing illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing.


The sessions cover some of the biggest issues in public health from childhood obesity to AMR and they contain signposting to trusted sources of helpful evidence, guidance and support to help professionals embed prevention in their everyday practice.

Please note the iHV does not host the e-LfH site. If you experience any problems accessing the site contact e-LfH.