NEW BLOG – Health Visiting in the UK

Health visiting in the UK has its origins in the nineteenth century.  Early health visitors started to be employed in Salford, Manchester from 1862. By 1905 health visitors were employed in about 50 towns. Their role was to visit families to advise them on nutrition and hygiene as there were very high levels of infant and maternal mortality.  From the 1890s Florence Nightingale became interested in the potential for the role of health visitor in the community, as distinct from that of the nurse whose care was focused on sick people rather than preventative health. She was responsible for the profession’s first education programme.

In 1916 the profession of health visiting was established with the then, Royal Sanitary Institute, overseeing its education. Its’ first statutory qualification was established by the Ministry of Health in 2019, with the training divided equally between theoretical and practical training as it is to this day. Then it included:

  • Elementary physiology
  • Methods of artisan cookery and household management
  • Hygiene, infections and communicable diseases
  • Maternity and infant child welfare
  • Elementary economics and social problems

From 1925 a midwifery qualification became a requirement for all health visitors entering their training. It was only after 1945 that a previous nursing qualification became a pre-requisite alongside at least three months of midwifery. Both nurses and midwives can enter health visiting training today and the specific midwifery requirement has been dropped.

The role and training of the health visitor has evolved since then, responding to current public health challenges. The burden of disease tackled by the profession has moved over time, from infectious diseases and malnutrition that were worsened by poor hygiene and cramped housing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to tackling the antecedents of chronic diseases now. This includes a particular focus on promoting mental health, as well as ensuring children are ‘school ready’. Throughout, the role of the health visitor has primarily been to identify risk, to assess need, to promote health and to prevent ill health – working at the level of the infant, family and community. Some elements of the health visiting role such as developmental reviews and feeding follow ups, are increasingly delegated to members of a wider health visiting skill mix team of community nursery nurses and staff nurses.

Health visiting became a universal statutory service in 1929 with health visitors employed by local authorities until 1974 when their employment moved to the National Health Service (NHS). In 2015 the commissioning of health visiting services moved back to local authority public health departments in England but the majority of health visitors are still employed by the NHS. With devolution significant variation has entered the service and employment models across the UK. Whilst substantial income has been taken out of the service in England with the loss of a third of the workforce there has been new investment elsewhere with Scotland introducing a particularly exciting model of enhanced health visiting

When I entered health visiting in 1981, my role was to address health promotion in the community from ‘cradle to grave.’ I focused my time both on the most vulnerable in society, largely the very old and vulnerable children, and also universally on mothers and infants up to the age of five. I taught health promotion in schools and ran parentcraft classes alongside the local midwifery service. I also visited elderly people who had not had recent contact with health services. Today the focus of health visiting in the UK, is just on pre-school families and it increasingly encompasses the health needs of the father as well as of the mother and infants. Much of the wider group educational elements of the role have been lost, to focus directly on individual children and families. When the child enters school their care is passed to the school nursing service. School nurses now share a core training with health visitors before specializing in the health needs of the school age population.

All health visitors and school nurses working in the UK must adhere to the same set of standards which are overseen by their regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The latest,, and new standards can be seen here.  The education curriculum is developed from these with the potential for some local variation to meet specific community needs. Health visitors and school nurses graduate with a first or Master’s degree but increasingly at Masters level. Some health visitors will then develop specialisms for working with specific groups such as the homeless, gypsies, travellers, refugees and prisoners, who are also parents of young children. Many areas also now employ health visitors as specialists in infant and perinatal mental health.

The focus of both health visitors and school nurses work in the UK remains holistic health promotion considering the physical, emotional and social needs of the baby and its family, or the school child, to ensure they have the best chance of enjoying a long and productive life and to reduce health inequalities. The universal service is focused on the early identification of risk and variation through regular touch points for developmental reviews. In England these are antenatally at thirty-six weeks and postnatally at two weeks, six weeks, one year and age two. There are significantly more universal contacts across the rest of the UK, with eleven in Scotland. We now understand the impact of family issues such as emotional wellbeing, substance abuse and domestic violence on the growing infant, so health visitors prioritise their remaining time for those families with these and other safeguarding issues. Also prioritised, are those families with a child with developmental delays, special needs, young parents and those living in difficult circumstances.

More detail of the current health visitor services in the UK can be found on these infographics produced by the Institute of Health Visiting:

iHV’s infographic on ‘who are health visitors’ and ‘what do they do

iHV’s infographic for Scotland on ‘who are health visitors’ and ‘what do they do’

iHV’s infographic for Wales (in English) on ‘who are health visitors’ and ‘what do they do’

See also these recent films:

Health visiting in your community

Health Visitors: for every family

The Institute ( was launched in 2012 as a Centre of Academic Excellence for the profession. Many of its’ resources will be of value to those working in similar roles across the world.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE

Chair GNPHN and Founder, Institute of Health Visiting


By | 2023-05-07T15:31:03+01:00 April 16th, 2023|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Nursing Now celebrates Global Launch

On Tuesday 27 February, Nursing Now held launch events and activities across the world, including the UK, Switzerland, Jamaica, USA, Jordan and South Africa. More than 30 countries were represented and people pledged their support and joined the campaign from around the world.

Nursing Now is a three-year campaign being run in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organization. Leaders from all three organisations joined the launches.

By | 2018-03-10T14:06:29+00:00 March 10th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

University of Nottingham, CPD Programme

School of Health Sciences
Continuing Professional Development
The University of Nottingham is delighted to be able to offer international/EU students the opportunity to undertake a bespoke four or six week clinical practicum in a specialist clinical area relevant to their area of specialism within a local National Health Service Trust Hospital.

Students will complete a portfolio of evidence accredited by The University of Nottingham to support achievement of personal and professional goals.


The University of Nottingham has an impressive worldwide reputation for academic excellence and is part of the Russell Group of 20 leading Universities in the UK. The School of Health Sciences is ranked fifth in the UK in terms of its research power for Nursing and Midwifery.

The local NHS Trust Hospital is a major trauma centre and offers a range of clinical specialties, including:

  • Midwifery
  • Neonates
  • Paediatrics
  • Cardiac
  • Renal
  • Orthopaedics
  • acute and critical care
  • burns
  • cancer care
  • medical and surgical specialities
  • health care of older people
  • end of life care

Duration, Dates and Cost 

  • Five weeks: 21 August 2017 to 24 September 2017 – £6000

(one week of academic study and four weeks of clinical practice)

  • Seven weeks: 21 August to 9 October 2017 – £8000

(one week of academic study and six weeks of clinical practice)

Module Structure 

Students provide a rationale for selecting the clinical placement area. The aims and objectives for the Clinical Practicum will be negotiated on an individual basis with students and in association with sponsors or employers (where appropriate).

Students will spend one week in the classroom completing governance training and discussion of clinical issues, followed by four or six weeks in a specialist clinical area.

Work under the supervision of an experienced clinical supervisor within the local hospital and receive individual support from an academic supervisor within the School of Health Sciences.

Students are required to submit a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate achievement of the aims/objectives during the Clinical Practicum. Ten credits at level 3 are awarded for a pass.

Entry Requirements

Students must be a registered nurse in their own country and hold an undergraduate diploma level (non-degree) qualification.

  • For international students: IELTS: 7 (with no less than 6.5 in any element)
  • Occupational Health: Occupational Health clearance is required to include up-to-date vaccinations:

– 3 x Hepatitis B

– 2 x Measles, Mumps, Rubella

– 2 x Varicella

– Tuberculosis

Students wishing to attend high risk exposure areas, such as midwifery will also need:


– Hepatitis B Surface Antibody

– Hepatitis C

  • Students will also be required to supply a declaration of good character and health form, certified by their current employer.

How to Apply 

Visit the Continuing Professional Development website.

For expressions of interest, or to find out more information, please contact either:

Chrissie Bousfield – Acting Director of Postgraduate Education and Clinical Practicum Leader)

Telephone: +44 (0) 115 82 30927

Lesley Dingley – Student Services Manager (Postgraduate and Continual Professional Development Programmes)

Telephone: +44 (0) 115 823 0811

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
School of Health Sciences, The University of Nottingham





By | 2017-08-17T17:01:06+01:00 April 27th, 2017|Uncategorised|0 Comments

ICCHNR Scholarship to attend conference in Johannesburg, September 2017


NEW ANNOUNCEMENT on MARY McCLYMONT FUND for small scholarship grants

ICCHNR is very pleased to announce that due to a generous donation we can extend our Mary McClymont scholarship grants for a further period to enable community health nurses from low income countries to join the conference in Johannesburg in September 2017.

The new deadline for applications is now 15th May 2017 and you will be informed of the outcome by 15th June 2017.

We particularly urge community nurses from within Africa to apply but will also consider applications from other countries meeting the criteria.

We look forward to welcoming you to Johannesburg for ICCHNR 2017!

For further instructions on the application process   use click below

By | 2017-08-17T17:01:06+01:00 April 27th, 2017|Uncategorised|0 Comments

WHO: Ten years of public health 2007-2017

Today WHO launches a report that chronicles the evolution of global public health over the decade that Dr Margaret Chan has served as Director-General at WHO.

The report opens with a letter from Dr Chan who offers her reflections on some of the highlights and challenges of the past 10 years working to build a better, healthier future for the world’s people.

The first chapter examines WHO’s key role in promoting universal health coverage as the most powerful way to improve global health and development and lead the world towards greater fairness.

By | 2017-08-17T17:01:06+01:00 April 18th, 2017|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Save the date for the 28th International Nursing Research Congress, 27-31 July 2017

Save the date for the 28th International Nursing Research Congress, 27-31 July 2017

Join the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International in Dublin, Ireland, and prepare to connect and engage with over 800 nurse researchers, students, clinicians, and leaders who are focused on evidence-based research.

By | 2016-11-14T10:34:57+00:00 November 14th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments


Harvard University is offering a free online course in Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster.  The course begins on August 30th and runs for 5 weeks.  Learn the principles guiding humanitarian response to modern emergencies, and the challenges faced in the field today.


From the Syrian refugee crisis to the West Africa Ebola outbreak, humanitarian emergencies have reached unprecedented dimensions and proportions. As need for humanitarian aid grows, how can efforts to alleviate human suffering evolve with it?


  • Legal and historical frameworks shaping the professionalization of the humanitarian field
  • An applied understanding of the principles guiding humanitarian response and the tensions that arise when operationalizing these principles in modern crises
  • How to recognize and adapt to major trends affecting the scope and implementation of humanitarian work


The link to enroll in this course is:!


This site offers a myriad of courses in a variety of disciplines.  Enjoy!

By | 2016-08-12T16:29:21+01:00 August 12th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments


The  Global Network of Public Health Nurses ,wish to warmly congratulate , Dr Cheryll Adams,who is to become a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) after being named in Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday Honours List.

For announcement details see  Dr Cheryll Adams

Along with her many accolades ,Dr Adams  is also  is  a member of the GNPHN steering group and will present at the 4th international PHN conference in Bilund ,Denmark. For details see  Global Network of Public Health Nurses

By | 2016-07-01T10:36:00+01:00 June 14th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments


The Institute of Community Nursing in Ireland ( are pleased to share a research app for Community Nurses, developed on their behalf, by Dr Sinead Hanafin.

The app link, can be sourced on the Research section of our web site.

Dr. Hanfin, is keen to point out that the information is focused on an Irish audience, but may be of some interest to our global colleagues.

Link to app information  

By | 2016-07-01T14:23:14+01:00 January 19th, 2016|Uncategorised|0 Comments