The Health Visitor service at Oxford Health is now getting back up to full strength after the impact of COVID-19.

The service, which has more than 30 teams operating across Oxfordshire, employs health visitors who are all registered nurses or midwives and their wider skill mix team.

They work with parents of new babies and children, offering support and evidence-based advice from before the birth to when the child starts school at five years. The team helps with specific issues that affect parents and/or their children’s health, from breastfeeding through to development concerns.

Around half of the health visiting workforce were redeployed to frontline services when the virus first hit, testing people for Covid 19 – among other duties – and delivering care that put themselves and their loved ones at a heightened risk.

That meant that during recent months health visiting operated at a reduced capacity but still offered a telephone helpline throughout, so that any parents could access support and advice.

Now the team is letting families know that with staff returning, the service is slowly building back up.

Face-to-face appointments are continuing with strict safety measures that include and social distancing and PPE.

There are plans to extend face to face baby clinics to more Oxfordshire locations. These will initially be by appointment only and will allow parents to speak with a health visiting team member.

The team will be continuing with virtual appointments and postnatal groups and is in the process of setting up a virtual well baby clinic.

Angela Smith, Oxford Health’s Professional & Clinical Lead for Health Visiting, has shared a video message to let parents know that the service is very much still available and accessible.

Angela said: “We have ensured that we have maintained a health visitor telephone contact line throughout, which any parent can use to get support and advice from their health visitor.

“It is important that if your child has not had their 1 year or 2 ½ year review during the pandemic, and if you have any concerns about your child’s emotional or physical health or development, or your own emotional health that you contact your health visiting team.

“We are here for you.”

All the contact numbers for Oxford Health’s health visiting teams can be found on the Trust’s website here: www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/health-visitors/contact-us/

You can also follow their Facebook page @OxfordshireNHSHealthVisitors