Those of us who work in the care sector will have been aware of changes being planned for the delivery of public health services from birth until the age of five.

As from October this year the responsibility for that area of planning and commissioning will become the job of the local authority and not the NHS.

Health visitors as we know play a crucial role in ensuring children have the best possible start in life, and lead delivery of the 0-5 elements of the Healthy Child Programme in partnership with other health and social care colleagues.

The Health Visiting Programme started in 2011 as a national programme of work to deliver on the Government’s commitment by 2015 to increase health visitors by 4,200 and create a “transformed, rejuvenated health visiting service providing improved outcomes for children and families with more targeted and tailored support for those who need it.”

It also set out to improve access to services, improve the experience of children and families, improve health and wellbeing outcomes for under-fives and reduce health inequalities.

A great deal of time and effort has been put aside to help staff cope with the changeover. Endless publications on professional guidance and pathway documents including the Health Visiting to School Nursing Pathway and Maternal Mental Health Pathway have been produced, with more due for release and refreshed updates.

The Children’s Health and Wellbeing Partnership (CHWP) has established the 0-5 Public Health Commissioning Transfer Programme Board to coordinate and have oversight of the transition.

So who will be affected and how? Come 1 October 2015 the 0-5 Healthy Child Programme (HCP) and the Family Nurse Partnership (targeted services for teenage mothers, where a family nurse will take on this role until the child is two years old) will have their commissioning responsibilities transferred to local authorities:

Child Health Information Systems, the 6 – 8 week GP check, (also known as the Child Health Surveillance) will be retained by NHS England. Emphasis is really on the fact that it is only the commissioning responsibility that is being transferred. Health visitors will continue to be employed by their current employer – in most cases this is the NHS.

So what are the financial implications for such a move?  The Department of Health says that NHS England estimates the spend for 0-5 services for 2015-16 to be £840m before any change, so the Department is investing an additional £36m, between 2014-15 and 2015-16 to pay for the full year effect of the additional health visitors and Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) places we have created.

As ever, the figures will be bounced about for some time to come but the final word must lie with those who deal with the women and children at this crucial developmental stage.

No matter what the costs it is vital that we protect this group as care through pregnancy and the early years impacts upon health and healthcare needs throughout life.

Health Visiting Programme –

Healthy Child Programme –

Health visiting to school nursing pathway –

Maternal mental health pathway –

The Childrens Health and Wellbeing Partnership –

0-5 Public Health Commissioning Programme  –

Family Nurse Partnership –