Health secretary Alan Johnson has launched a review of health visiting in response to Lord Laming’s report into the death of Baby P.

Baby P died in August 2007 in the London borough of Haringey. In the month preceding his death, NHS professionals had eight opportunities to spot that the 17 month old was being seriously abused.

In his report, Lord Laming says the system for protecting vulnerable children must be strengthened.

He recommends establishing a new national safeguarding delivery unit to support public services and councils in doing this and changing the way social workers and health visitors are recruited and trained.

Health visitor role reinforced

Mr Johnson said: “Lord Laming reinforces the key role of the health visitor and their contribution to child protection. I have today asked the chief nursing officer to lead a programme of action on health visiting. This programme will be developed and delivered in partnership with the Community Practitioner Health Visitor Association, other key stakeholders and NHS experts across the country.

“It will ensure the key roles of health visitors are defined and delivered, that health visitors are supported in their vital work and that career opportunities and numbers of health visitors are increased.”

Education secretary Ed Balls has already agreed to establish the national safeguarding delivery unit and the government has committed itself to responding to Lord Laming’s 57 other recommendations by the end of April.