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Universal health visiting service

We are supporting the delivery of a new universal health visiting service that will give families better access to health visitors, and help to ensure the health and wellbeing of pre-school children.

The Universal Health Visiting Pathway in Scotland, published in October 2015, presents our plan to offer a home visiting programme to all families as a minimum standard. The Pathway was developed via extensive discussion with clinicians, NHS staff and other stakeholders, and will ensure consistency of service across all of Scotland.

What's included

The Pathway mandates 11 home visits for all families, three of which include the health visitor doing a formal review of the family and child's health. Formal reviews are done when the child is:

  • aged between 13 and 15 months
  • aged between 27 and 30 months
  • about to start school

Home visits cover the antenatal to pre-school period and provide an opportunity for health visitors to build relationships with children and their parents, in which the health visitor can act as a gateway to other services. This early engagement helps prepare health visitors to serve as the child's named person until they start school.

Increasing the workforce

To deliver the universal health visiting service successfully, we are working with Health Boards to create 500 additional health visitor posts by 2018.

We have provided significant funding to expand the workforce.

According to official statistics published 6 June 2017, there are at least an additional 242 health visitors working in Scotland since June 2014. Between September 2014 and March 2017, 470 students completed their health visitor training.

We worked out how many more health visitors we would need by using a caseload weighting tool developed especially for this purpose. This tool ensured consistency in determining health visiting numbers across the country, and also allowed for local variation influenced by particular circumstances.

More information on local health visiting services can be found on individual NHS Board websites.