Government to continue mandating five universal health visitor visits

Home > Government to continue mandating five universal health visitor visits

2 March 2017

We’re delighted that the government will continue to mandate five health visitor visits for mothers and babies from pregnancy to 2.5 years.

Following new research highlighting the importance of face-to-face, reliable support from pregnancy throughout the early years, we welcome the news that local authorities will continue to be required to provide five health visitor visits to mums and babies from pregnancy to 2.5 years.

The early years have a profound impact on the future health and wellbeing of children, along with the physical and mental health of mothers and their families. Health visits provide crucial help during this critical and sometimes vulnerable time, supporting mothers to breastfeed and develop a close and loving relationship with their baby. The visits also give mothers a much-needed listening ear, allowing them to voice their concerns and feel supported in their transition to parenthood and beyond. It is crucial that services at these fives stages are protected:

  • During pregnancy – 28 weeks: Support with a physical and mental health assessment, preparation for parenthood, guidance on bonding and early child development.
  • 10-14 days after birth: Help with feeding, bonding and interacting, as well as immunisation and safety (e.g. car seats).
  • 6-8 weeks old: Continuing support on feeding and bonding, and a particular focus on mothers’ mental health. Families will receive contact details of other sources of support, including local health clinics and children’s centres.
  • 9-12 months old: Review of the child’s development, offering additional local support if needed, advising on nutrition and dental health, and promoting the two year free nursery offer to support school readiness.
  • 2-2.5 years old: Helping parents to support their child’s development at a key time when specific problems may begin to be evident e.g. behaviour problems, speech and language delays.

The continuation of these visits is an important step in protecting the health and wellbeing of babies, their mothers and families, helping to ensure that all children have the best possible chance to thrive.

These universal health visiting contacts are a vital to ensure that all parents are supported to give children the best start in life ... They form a very visible offer to parents of highly skilled support with the transition to parenthood and at important points in child health and development.
Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse