The Department of Health will expect councils to provide health visiting services in five key areas when they take over the role of commissioning the services from the NHS next year.

According to DH guidance issued this week, the mandated services are:

  • antenatal health promoting reviews;
  • new baby reviews;
  • six to eight week assessments;
  • one year assessments; and
  • two to two and a half year reviews.

The department will expect these five areas to be covered by councils for at least 18 months after they take over the role of commissioning the services from the NHS in October next year.

After this initial period ends in April 2017, authorities may be given greater flexibility to decide how the services are provided.

The five manadated services listed in the guidance are currently commissioned by the NHS under its Healthy Child Programme.

A statement from the DH said councils would have to provide these services to all parents because “they are crucial connection points where health visitors and their teams have powerful opportunities to support families, leading to better outcomes for children”.

In a joint statement, the Local Government Association and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers said “a great deal of work” was necessary at local and national level to ensure each area had sufficient funding to deliver their new responsibilities.

“We are pleased that the government has listened to our concerns about the importance for local authorities of having long term flexibility to manage these services locally,” they said.

“Local authorities are looking forward to working closely with health visitors to provide the best possible services for families, integrating with wider health, social care and education services.”