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To think the HV system is completely crap and doesn't work?

(27 Posts)
FlamingoDuBeke Wed 23-Sep-09 12:48:46

Either HVs are on mums' backs, having a go at them about their babies' weights, or they don't get in touch at all.

I just had a call from a HV about our 4.5yo reception-age DD2, worried that they hadn't done a 2y check on her and could I go and have one done please?

I'm afraid I burst out laughing and said ''s 4.5 and doing absolutely fine, thank you'.

What is the point of HVs? I've only ever encountered a handful of good HVs who actually do the job they're mean to do in the way they're mean to do it. Doesn't this mean that the HV system just doesn't work?

minxofmancunia Wed 23-Sep-09 12:56:41

I appreciate your own experiences may have been negative but personally as a health professional and one currently in receipt of (v good) maternity services I hate blanket statements like this about whole professions.

It varies from area to area. One of the reasons hv time gets so tied up is the huge amount of child protection work a lot of them are obliged to do.

You can always call/approach them if you need them too, you know be proactive hmm

Firawla Wed 23-Sep-09 12:57:01

yanbu. rather than scrap the system maybe they could improve it, it is a good idea in theory.. but mine are the never in touch at all type, ive not managed to get any of the checks for my ds so far! luckily ive not really had any issues that i desperately needed hv's input for, but they dont seem to make themselves easily available if you do

FlamingoDuBeke Wed 23-Sep-09 12:59:10

I am proactive, I am a HCP myself, and I know the HVs don't have much time. If you read the post, you will see I am actually talking about the HV system not working, not HVs themselves

Although the majority of HVs I have any contact with, which is a lot as I work a lot with mothers myself, seem to be spouting crap, outdated, un-evidence based advice and scaring mothers about their babies' weight. But that's another debate.

I'm talking about the system - how can it work when a) they have no time and b) only a minority of them actually do what they're meant to do?

mazzystartled Wed 23-Sep-09 13:01:12

i think they suss out pretty quickly where they are needed and back off where they are not
of course there are some who are less then well informed re bf and weaning issues, but
we are lucky here - run fabulous drop ins, weaning courses and are very accessible.

FlamingoDuBeke Wed 23-Sep-09 13:02:11

Maybe your HVs need to show other areas how to do it, mazzy!

scottishmummy Wed 23-Sep-09 13:04:40

maybe on mn we disproprtionatley hear of bad hcp.HV have enormous caseloads,limited resources they are overstretched. but unfilled and/or frozen posts and agency staff add to mix too

but that in no way condones poor practice or excuses it.

tvaerialmagpiebin Wed 23-Sep-09 13:07:42

Are there any HVs who post on MN? I would love to hear from them.

I have never met mine, having moved house when ds was 2 and a bit. I had to have a "surgery induction" at the GP practice but nothing said about ds and the HV. I don't even know how it works, are they allocated to GP surgeries, or what?

I think there are so many reports of bad ones and far too few recommendations when HVs are good. The one I had when ds was a baby was great. She was kind to me when it was obvious I had pnd and wouldn't accept it, she listened to me obsess about ds for ages. She gave me he phone number for DV helpline and tried as hard as she could without actually saying it to get me to leave xp. After I had left him she told me she thought he was a total plonker. (She's right)

The govt needs to put more mooney into child support, children's centres etc. Stop funding pointless defence procurement schemes and so on, start using the cash to train and retain more midwives. Insist on regular retraining so HCPs don't spout out-of-date nonsense and terrify new mums. Support BF initiatives, encourage provision of family-friendly facilities in pools etc.

Sorry, rant over!

minxofmancunia Wed 23-Sep-09 13:08:56

I think here their time is very definitely targeted. If they aren't needed they will leave you to it to focus on families/areas where the need is higher.

But when I called them in desperation re bf one came the next day and was v helpful. If you are concerened they will look at your issue and prioritise it according to need.

There is a culture amongst healthcare consumers in this country that their own need should be seen as a priority. Our service gets whinged about alot esp. on here! (CAMHS) But the reality is that behavioural difficulties that aren't neurobiological in origin are down our priority list compared to psychosis, self-harm and eating disorders.

Pinkjenny Wed 23-Sep-09 13:10:09

Our local HVs are absolutely fantastic. They are always available at the end of the phone if you have any concerns, and I have never had cause to complain about the care dd has received.

curiositykilled Wed 23-Sep-09 14:29:35

I think the HV system like other systems in the NHS is poorly funded and administrated.

Each mother should be allocated the same HV from birth to school otherwise I don't see how they can even have a chance at picking up things like postnatal depression or problems with the child or mother.

After DS we never had the same HV twice and after my dd was born I didn't even get a HV, we were sent the 'practice nursery nurse' then a few different HVs/midwives hmm not sure why that was appropriate.

Very supportive of the need for HV though.

queenofdenial2009 Wed 23-Sep-09 14:29:48

I'm also NHS and I actually do think the HV system is a bit rubbish. I accept all the points about funding and workloads, but too be honest (watch me get flamed!) there are too many HV who see it as an easy option until they retire. Often not the ones working in areas where they are really needed, but for example I lived in an affluent, rural area and she was worse than useless. Also, a lot of them have views out of the 1950s and feel SAHMs are the way to go. Not convinced that they should make their personal opinions so obvious. Obviously just my opinion!

nymphadora Wed 23-Sep-09 14:36:12

I changed HV because of a re-strusture and never saw one again. dd2 has some hearing and speech problems and if I hadn't got things sorted myself they would have been really bad by the time she started school. The previous HV had been aware of issues around her so it was in her notes but as she was only 18m nothing had been sorted yet so it should have been picked up by the new one.

HV should be seeing every child even if its only 6 monthly. I work for Childrens services and so many referrals come in and HV aren't aware because last time they saw the family everything was ok.

Daisydaydream Wed 23-Sep-09 15:00:44

Why are they still called 'Health Visitors'? Just wondering in this day and age of pc job titles (my elderly relative no longer has carers, but 'enablers') do they still actually visit anyone in the home? My personal experience is of seeing them in a medical setting, at the Doctors Drop-In clinic etc, or on a phone help line. IIRC I had one visit when DS was born to weigh him, and that was it, any other times we have seen her it has been because I have taken him to a clinic. My Mum says that when I was little (34 years ago) they regularly called at the home for weighing, developmental checks etc. Can anyone give me any more info on their role these days? (just wondered if I am missing out on anything here, I found out yesterday that I should have got an additional 2 Bounty packs that I didn't know about!wink )

DoNotPressTheRedButton Wed 23-Sep-09 15:04:37


I've had a good HV in the past, but many horrors- the one who tried to stop me BF ds4 becuase 'if you don't drink milk (I can't) you don't make milk'hmm, and the one who woudln't come see ds1 aged 3 weeks and weight dropped to 1.5lbs below birthweight (which ws only 5.5 lbs) as it was the millennium.

Our current one is an enigma. Or rather, she is invisible! As ds1 and ds3 have both got an asd ds4 is considered high risk and us as a family vulnerable. Since taking over when ds4 was 6 months a year ago we ahve had a call to ask if he's deceloping OK and nothing more. Given an up to 80% risk of an asd based on family history (and even ds2 is being considered for dyspraxia or add dx) you'd think she'd be a little mroe involved

lizziemun Wed 23-Sep-09 15:08:29


I have a question for them Why do you get a different one for child. I have 3 although the last one i've only seen once when she came and filled in the red book telling me as this was my 3rd i wouldn't need them.

evaangel2 Wed 23-Sep-09 15:16:54

As my HV told me last week, there has been alot of changes in the past few years which our DC's are suffering for it, they have scrapped the 2.5 assessment

What about checking hearing, speech, sight etc which is a must at that stage of there lives, also chatting about any concerns you may have

My HV is great, she is like a dog with a bone, she is helping me & DH get a referral for my sons possible epilepsy

She feels that the health care system is fobbing us parents off!!!she has probably seen this so many times

evaangel2 Wed 23-Sep-09 15:21:03

sorry but this may just apply to the area we live in

penona Wed 23-Sep-09 15:27:03

It would be very useful to understand the HV system and what it is supposed to do. After my two were born I was visited by a number of HVs of varying quality, but then my appointed HV went off long term sick and there was no-one to cover. I got an 8mth check at 12 mths after constant badgering of my HVs manager (was concerned about devpt).

I know there is an HV clinic, but I am not sure why I would go there and not to my GP? Is easier to get an appt at my GP! I don't really know what HV do after the first few days out of hospital?

lal123 Wed 23-Sep-09 15:34:42

I think the HV system works as well as it can given the pressures it is under. THe way it works here is that resources are targetted at the most vulnerable families - with non-vulnerable families getting very little input.

HVs in our area spend the majority of their time dealing with child protection issues and supporting vulnerable parents - to be honest I'd be thankful that you don't need to see your HV more often!

Re gettinf hte same HV from birth to school - what? I take it we put a ban on HVs moving/getting new jobs/service review etc etc??

DoNotPressTheRedButton Wed 23-Sep-09 15:36:58

At ds3's development check after he regressed we talked about how Dh and I felt there were problems and she did some tests- none of which he participated in. She said 'oh i an tell he can do it, just has chosen not to, nothing wrong'

after his dx of autism she said 'I knew after that assessment and I wrote so many letters to everyone'- nobody I have spoken to has any record of that

I think as a family we're beyond the remit of normal-HV; Idlike access to someone who has an idea of what to watch out for in ds4 and some understanding of services as I can't get any help wahtsoever and someone backing up (eg) my requests for carers assessment or respite would have beem immensely useful; instead we have 'Oh I don't know much about autism' and nothing 4else. As a slightly paranoid (understandably imo) Mum I need the reassurance of developmental asseessments and somewho who 'gets' us as a unit.

cory Wed 23-Sep-09 15:39:31

HV system worked well for us. They spotted dd's failure to thrive when I still had my head in the sand; don't like to think what might have happened to dd if they hadn't got us off to hospital when they did. They were also the first to pick up on her joint problems. And they helped me to join their lovely first mums group: 12 years later some of those mums are still my friends.

holdingittogether Wed 23-Sep-09 15:51:34

I have always been of the view that HV have to prioritise and when they think you are ok they leave you to it. I was very young when I had ds1, only 21 and my HV was very attentive and I suspect looking back it was due to me being so young and her keeping an eye on me. The attitude when i had my next 2 children was very different and I barely saw them but that suited me just fine.

The trouble is though then you go under their radar and if a problem arrises then you are on your own. I had a tough time after ds3 birth due to a combination of things and tried to talk to my HV as I felt i wasn't coping and felt I was told to pull myself together and get on with things so never opened up to her again and in fact haven't been to see her since.

Stigaloid Wed 23-Sep-09 15:52:07

Mine was rubbish. I had one for about 10 weeks. Then she got moved to another area - no one informed me and she was never replaced. I went to see a different one to ask for a referral to a PND group when DS was 16 weeks old. That is the last time i have seen a HV. DS not weighed by any or seen by any since. (He has been seen by dr's though and is doing fine) About a year after i had finished my PND course (and was doing better) i get a call out of the blue from an HV saying "we see on file that you were referred and wanted to see what came about of the sessions" Thankfully i was okay, but if i had been in a worste state or not had the support i did from DH i could have been ina right old mess and it took them A YEAR to get in touch.

DS has not had a 2 year check - didn't even know he was meant to have one.

hf128219 Wed 23-Sep-09 15:58:48

Question! Are children meant to have a 2 year check up? My 20 month dd hasn't been seen by anyone for over a year (bar 1 visit to the GP).

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