I have been practising now for the best part of fourteen years, before that I was a midwife. For me the professions are intertwined like mistletoe and Christmas. You don’t have to be a midwife to become a health visitor but we are in my opinion professional sisters. At this present time this part of the NHS family is struggling through a dark period. We hear daily how nationally the NHS is short of midwives and trusts are struggling to find the money to employ enough of them. The press have reported a small amount about the cuts to the health visiting service but this sadly does not achieve the recognition that the midwives do. We are and always will be a service that is accepted but not adored.
Some see us as bossy and interfering. I would prefer people to see us as the public health nurses we are. Our aim is to provide families with information that is evidenced based and relevant to their health needs. Few will be aware that Florence Nightingale had a part in our birth she recognised the importance of tackling issues that may affect health before the population became ill,
“In 1892 she recognised the importance of health visiting in rural, as well as urban, areas, pointing out the sad fact that “there are more people to pick us up when we fall, than to enable us to stand upon our feet.””
I doubt though few will comprehend that we are now a dying breed, (and once again there will be less of us enabling people to stand upon their feet ) our service is being slashed in front of our eyes many of our number have in the past few months felt the need to move to pastures new because the local councils are wanting to pay less and less for our services and are cutting staff to the bare minimum. There are no students being trained in our county. We are not being used to our full potential, we are all nurse prescribers and can prescribe from a limited formulary, we could be used more wisely to prevent families turning to A&E. We can give advice about minor illness and injury and if our skills were utilised outside of normal surgery hours; particularly early evening this may reduce the number of attendances to emergency departments.
2019 will mark a century of statutory qualifications for health visitors who were employed to insure the health of the nation improved and the country would have healthy citizens to work and produce economic growth and prosperity. Our country may be a healthier place to live in the 21st century but we continue to have health needs and if no one is searching for them and trying to prevent ill-health occurring our GP’s and hospital’s burdens will be heavier our industries will suffer and ultimately our country. For a country to know where it is going to we need to continue to learn from the past.