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Natural synergies provide an opportunity to think creatively

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The last government’s drive to increase the number of health visitors working in England was driven by a recognition of the extent to which a good start improves life chances for the individual and reduces the cost to the state of more expensive interventions in later life.

The target of an additional 4,200 full-time equivalent health visitors by the end of the parliament was a commitment of the 2010 Conservative

Although it is believed the target has been missed by about 5%, had the target not existed it is debatable whether the profession would have survived five years of austerity, even within the protected NHS.

Health visiting’s focus on wellbeing is a more natural fit with local government than the health service.

Yet, as our analysis shows, the universal service at the level currently offered will be difficult to maintain in the face of continued funding restraint.

However, there are many more synergies between health visiting and existing children’s services, and therefore opportunities to redesign services to maximise the opportunities for efficiencies and better outcomes.

In addition, health visitors are highly qualified – you must be a registered nurse to gain entry onto a course – and as such could bring valuable clinical expertise to the children’s services team.

While it is right that local authorities want to target limited funds at the most needy, councils should take advantage of these synergies to think creatively about delivery to maintain maximum reach into their communities.  

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