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Healthy child initiative aims to unite health visitors and nurses in providing consistent healthcare

New Welsh Government programme sets out to ensure consistent healthcare for all children from birth until the age of 7.
Health visitor

New Welsh Government programme sets out to ensure consistent healthcare for all children from birth until the age of 7.

From Saturday (1 October) all the work of nurses in Wales whether in neonatal units, health visiting, paediatrics, mental health, public health or in schools will be subject to the Healthy Child Wales programme.

This universal government initiative outlines core advice and support services, as well as early intervention measures such as screenings and developmental checks for children.

Early involvement

RCN Wales associate director of professional practice Alison Davies welcomed nurse and health visitor involvement from the outset.

She said: 'The most positive element is that nurses and health visitors helped design this programme from the start as they have the access

New Welsh Government programme sets out to ensure consistent healthcare for all children from birth until the age of 7.

Health visitor
Health visitors and nurses will be involved in the new programme from the outset. Picture: iStock

From Saturday (1 October) all the work of nurses in Wales – whether in neonatal units, health visiting, paediatrics, mental health, public health or in schools – will be subject to the Healthy Child Wales programme.

This universal government initiative outlines ‘core’ advice and support services, as well as early intervention measures such as screenings and developmental checks for children.

Early involvement

RCN Wales associate director of professional practice Alison Davies welcomed nurse and health visitor involvement from the outset.

She said: 'The most positive element is that nurses and health visitors helped design this programme from the start as they have the access to the evidence and the professional opinion necessary to ensure best practice.

'As with any programme of this nature it is important nurses have continued access to education, learning, supervision and continuing professional development to ensure services are maintained at the highest level.'

The scheduled contacts include:

  • Antenatal care from Midwifery service arranged by ten weeks gestation.
  • Physical examination of newborn within 72 hours and bloodspot screening at 5 days old.
  • Home visit contact by 14 days for family resilience and maternal mental health assessment.
  • Physical examination at 6 weeks.
  • Additional home visit contact (and vaccinations) at 8, 12 and 16 weeks for growth assessment, then at 6 months for weaning and baby safety advice and further visits at 15 and 27 months.
  • Handover from home visit to school nurse at age 4 or 5.
  • School nurse service between 4 and 7 years including vision and growth screening, hearing impairment screening and child measurement programme.

Programme expectations

At each stage nurses and health visitors will be expected to:

  • Support and empower families to make informed choices to provide a safe, nurturing environment.
  • Ensure early detection of physical, metabolic or developmental problems and protect from avoidable childhood diseases.
  • Support the transition into the school environment.

Welsh minister for social services and public health Rebecca Evans launched the programme at a health visitors’ conference in Cardiff to coincide with National Health Visiting Week, which runs until September 30.

Ms Evans co-wrote the forward to the programme which champions partnership working as: ‘No one service, working in isolation, will achieve the positive impact on children’s health and well-being that we recognise is required.’

Although the programme has been accepted by every health board in the country, the Welsh Government estimates the full roll-out will take 2 years to complete.


Further information

Healthy Child Wales Programme

Health Visiting Week

Join the conversation on Twitter using #HVweek 

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