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Health Providers

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the qualifications required to carry out the roles of (a) health visitor, (b) district nurse and (c) child psychologist have changed since 1997. (109062)

The content and standard of training for health visitors and district nurses is a matter for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and relevant higher education institutions in collaboration with the Royal College of Nursing and other stakeholders. Health visitors and district nurses are obliged to undertake continuing professional development, and are required to declare they have met the NMC continuing professional development standard on a three-yearly basis in order to maintain their registration.

With regard to child psychologists, by its Royal Charter granted in 1965 the British Psychological Society is charged with maintaining standards of professional education and knowledge.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the roles of (a) health visitors, (b) district nurses and (c) child psychologists working within the NHS have changed since 1997. (109063)

The primary role of the health visitor is the promotion of health and providing preventive healthcare. Since 1997, this has continued to be the focus of their role. Policies such as Liberating the Talents 2002, the Chief Nursing Officer’s review of the nursing contribution to vulnerable children 2004 and the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services 2004 all reinforce the preventive contribution of health visitors, in particular for the most vulnerable children and families. Many primary care trusts are working with the profession to ensure that their role evolves in line with wider changes, such as the expansion of Sure Start Children’s Centres.

The role of the district nurse has changed in line with changing patient need and health policy. They are now caring for more people with long-term conditions, and managing a skill-mixed team of nurses. They are playing a vital role in enabling people with high levels of nursing needs to be cared for in their own homes.

We have no knowledge of any significant change to the role of child psychologists since 1997.