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New report shows increasing levels of work-related stress within the health visiting workforce

A new study by the Institute of Health Visiting highlights factors which are impacting the quality of health visiting provided in England.

The research, involving over 1000 practising heath visitors, lists the following key findings:

  • Considerable variation exists between local authorities in the quality of the health visiting service that health visitors are able to provide which may not be based on best practice or the family’s level of need.
  • The health visiting service has become increasingly driven to demonstrate compliance to key performance indicators, most notably uptake of the five mandated health reviews.
  • This approach can result in “ticking the box but missing the point”. It also reduces the health visitor’s professional autonomy and capacity to respond to identified needs and utilise their skills to address key public health priorities and reduce inequalities.
  • The provision of continuity of health visitor is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver in practice. Continuity and personalised care are key components of effective health visiting practice which are highly valued by parents and strongly associated with improved outcomes.
  • The survey also highlights increasing levels of work-related stress within the health visiting workforce. Practitioners report distress and concerns about the risks to which “hidden” vulnerable children and families are exposed and how many are now left unsupported.

The report sets out key recommendations within three urgent priority areas to:

  • Provide sustainable funding to ensure every child and family has access to a high quality, evidence-driven health visiting service with support based on their level of need, rather than where they live.
  • Improve the quality of health visiting practice.
  • Build capacity and capability within the health visiting

Read the full report here