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 .


Yesterday afternoon, the long-awaited refreshed commissioning guidance for health visiting and school nursing was published by Public Health England (PHE). This guidance supersedes the previous guidance which was last updated in March 2018.

The guidance is presented in a suite of 3 documents to assist local authorities in the commissioning of health visiting and school nursing services to lead and co-ordinate delivery of public health for children aged 0 to 19.

In PHE’s announcement yesterday, Wendy Nicholson, Deputy Chief Nurse and Deputy Head of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Public Health Nursing and Midwifery at Public Health England stated:

“Setting the foundations for health and wellbeing during pregnancy and in the early years is crucial to ensure we give every child the very best start in life as possible…

We are publishing the revised health visiting and school nursing model, which replaces the “456” model, to focus further on needs assessment so that interventions are personalised to respond to children and families’ needs across time”.

At the iHV, we are still working our way through all the details and their implications on health visiting practice. Important changes and considerations include:

  • The inclusion of two additional universal contacts at 3-4 months and 6 months. These will provide important opportunities to address key public health priorities including, perinatal mental health, child development, breastfeeding, childhood obesity prevention, immunisation uptake and accident prevention.
  • The language of the “4,5,6 model” has been removed; whilst the principles behind the model were sound, there has been widespread agreement that it had inadvertently driven a “race to the bottom” in some areas. The updated document contains welcomed recognition that the health visiting offer is much bigger than 5 mandated contacts, these are just a “gateway” into the service and as PHE highlight, “many areas are offering so much more” – we hope that this will indeed become the norm.
  • An increased emphasis on “personalised” care as well as professional and clinical judgement. This is a helpful reframing of policy which underpins the professional autonomy of the health visitor which is so important if we want to avoid a “one size fits all” approach.
  • Updated language and increased emphasis on health visitors’ contribution to recent policy priorities including, early language development, preconception care and vulnerability.
  • Increased scope for “Emotional Health and Wellbeing Assessments” – alongside maternal mental health, these will now include fathers and babies. In particular, this includes a clear statement that, “Health visitors assess maternal mental health at all health visiting mandated reviews” (NOTE: health visitors, not health visiting; document 2, p.24).
  • We note that in places within the document, there has been a shift in language referring to health visiting, rather than “health visitor”. Will this lead to further erosion of “health visitors” from key elements of the Healthy Child Programme?

We encourage you to read it and tell us your views – we are working our way through the detail.

From what we have read and digested so far, there is a lot in these documents that we welcome. The obvious “elephant in the room” is the lack of details on funding, accountability and essential strategy to address the current workforce issues in health visiting. Let’s hope that these are forthcoming to support the translation of this policy into strategy and the action needed to achieve PHE’s ambition of “No child left behind” – which of course is an ambition that we wholeheartedly share.


The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) has signed up to Public Health England’s (PHE) Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health. This will see iHV work closely with PHE to take significant steps towards the promotion of good mental health and the prevention of mental health problems.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director Institute of Health Visiting, with the iHV’s signatory certificate for Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health

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

“The Institute is delighted to have been awarded as a Signatory for the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health. Our work in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, in particular our Champions project, acts on the recognition that parental and infant mental health are crucial to good mental health across the life-course. We support our Champions at every local level to lead the shift towards prevention-focused care, enabling early help through the use of upstream interventions at every level of need.

“The Institute is absolutely committed to supporting local authorities, policy makers, parents, NHS clinical commissioners, service providers and the voluntary sector to promote a prevention-focused approach towards improving the public’s mental health.”

The Prevention Concordat Programme for Better Mental Health marked the first time that agencies across the community and care sectors came together to make prevention a priority for mental health. Now 74 organisations representing all sectors have signed up and committed to action. These organisations are benefiting from resources designed specifically to help local areas put in place effective prevention planning arrangements.

The promotion of good mental health is everyone’s responsibility and can only be achieved by working together. As a signatory to the concordat, we recognise that we can all contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing and reducing stigma, facilitate local and national action around preventing mental health problems and promote good mental health.

Lily Makurah, national lead for public mental health at PHE, said:

“The Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health exists to help communities prevent mental health problems and promote good mental health. Through local and national action across sectors we can all contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing, improve outcomes and reduce stigmas for everyone. We’re delighted that the Institute of Health Visiting has joined the growing list of signatories.”

Background to the Concordat

Public Health England is seeking to appoint a number of professional technical advisors – these are nurses and midwives with expertise in public health including those with a background in midwifery, health visiting, school nursing, community nursing, health protection, health promotion or nurses with an interest and background in public health, for example from the learning disabilities or mental health fields of practice.

Applications are also welcomed from those in hospital settings with an interest in embedding prevention and public health or who have a specialist public health qualification such as infection prevention and control.

For further details of the post and how to apply, please click here.

Public Health England (PHE) is advising parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of scarlet fever following a substantial increase in reported cases across England in 2017 to 2018.

Scarlet fever is a very contagious, seasonal bacterial illness that mainly affects children and is not uncommon for this time of year.

The latest Health Protection Report showed 6,225 cases of scarlet fever had been reported since mid-September 2017, compared to 3,764 for the same period last season. There were 719 cases reported for the most recent week (22 to 28 January 2018).

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness; PHE is advising parents to be on the lookout for scarlet fever symptoms, which include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red rash with a sandpapery feel. If signs of scarlet fever are suspected, it is important to contact your local GPor NHS 111. Early treatment with antibiotics is important and can help reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and the spread of the infection. Children or adults diagnosed with scarlet fever are advised to stay at home until at least 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others.

PHE is also urging GPs, paediatricians, and other health practitioners to be mindful when assessing patients and promptly notify local health protection teams of cases and outbreaks.

For further information for on scarlet fever visit the NHS Choices website.

Guidelines for the management of scarlet fever are also available from the PHE website.

Short weekly update from the CEO of Public Health England (PHE), including:

  • PHE commissioned Metro Dynamics to carry out a review of the inclusive growth opportunities for mayors and they will be working with each mayoral team in the coming months to see where they can complement and add value to the input of local public health teams.
  • launch of PHE’s ‘Protect against STIs’ sexual health campaign, the first national sexual health campaign in eight years.
  • Surveillance is a core function for PHE and ensures that the right information is available at the right time to inform public health policy and practice.  PHE has published their overall approach to surveillance, emphasising its continuing importance across all their work, and describing a framework for how they will develop our surveillance capability, for both infectious and non-communicable diseases.
  • PHE has been given planning permission to create their world class science campus and headquarters in Harlow, Essex. This is a massive public investment in public health science in the UK.

Premature babies have a higher risk of infection. They should be immunised in line with the recommended schedule from two months after birth, no matter how premature they were.

A leaflet for parents which describes the immunisations offered to premature babies:

Public Health England (PHE) has updated the leaflet that describes the vaccinations that help protect you and your baby during and after pregnancy.

This leaflet explains:

  • the flu vaccine
  • the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine
  • the rubella (German measles) vaccine

These vaccinations are recommended for women who are pregnant. Rubella vaccination is also recommended for women who require protection before becoming pregnant again.

Short weekly update from the CEO of Public Health England (PHE), including:

  • 10 years of Smokefree legislation in public places
  •  international peer review carried out by the International Association of National Public Health Institutes
  • Last week PHE and the Royal Society for Public Health published Everyday Interactions, a resource to support healthcare professionals measure the impact they are having on improving people’s health
  • PHE’s All Our Health programme supports staff to use every contact between the NHS and the public as an opportunity to encourage healthier lifestyles. This new resource has been developed by frontline staff to enable them to demonstrate how this makes a difference.
  • PHE and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published guidance to improve air quality across England. Most of the recommendations are for local authorities, focusing on transport, planning and public health.
  • New data on cancer survival from PHE and the Office of National Statistics
  • Breastfeeding Celebration Week. The UK has one of the lowest numbers of babies breastfed at six months in the world, and whilst we have seen a small increase in the numbers of women breastfeeding in England, we know that more babies and mothers would benefit if supported to breastfeed.

Short weekly update from the CEO of Public Health England (PHE), including:

  • A welcome to the new minister for public health and primary care, Stephen Brine MP
  • Faculty of Public Health Annual conference, held in Telford this week, with the theme Driving change with evidence
  • This week’s Queen’s Speech
  • Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference in Bristol
  • Swimming provides a number of benefits for health and wellbeing for people of all ages – which makes it an accessible activity for all
  • PHE and the Local Government Association (LGA) have published a resource to support local authorities in identifying and meeting the public health needs of the armed forces in England