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Health services

Community midwives

Your community midwife has a legal duty to care for you and your baby for the first ten days after your baby’s birth and will keep you on her books for the first 28 days if you, or the baby, need her. She can help with any problem to do with you or your baby and will give you a phone number to call at any time, day or night, if you need to.

Health visitors

Your health visitor usually makes her first visit some time after your baby is ten days old. After that she may only see you at clinics or when you ask to see her. If you’re alone, or struggling, she may make a point of coming by to see whether you need any help.

A health visitor is a qualified nurse who has had extra training to become a health visitor. Part of her role is to help families, especially families with babies and young children, to avoid illness and keep healthy. Talk to your health visitor if you feel anxious, depressed or worried about your children. She may be able to offer advice and suggest where to find help, and may organise groups where you can meet other mothers.

Your health visitor can visit you at home, or you can see her at your child health clinic, doctor’s surgery or health centre, depending on where she’s based. She’ll give you a phone number to get in touch if you need to.

Family doctors

Your family doctor (GP) can be contacted at any time for yourself, your baby, or child. Some doctors will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment if necessary, but be prepared to wait. Some will give advice over the phone. Most doctors provide developmental reviews and immunisation themselves, or you can go to a child health clinic.

Child health clinics

Your child health clinic offers regular health and development reviews and immunisation for your baby or child. It’s run by health visitors and doctors. You can talk about any problems to do with your child, but if your child is ill and is likely to need treatment, you should go to your GP.

At some child health clinics you can get baby milk and vitamins cheaper than in the shops. If you’re entitled to free baby milk and vitamins, or to low-price baby milk, you may be able to get these at your clinic. Clinics are good places to meet other parents. Some run mother and baby or parent and toddler groups, and sell secondhand baby clothes and equipment.

Community health councils

Your community health council (CHC; in your phone book under the name of your health authority) can advise you on how to get what you need from the health services and on what you’re entitled to. It can also give you information about local services. For example, if you want to change your doctor, your CHC will have a list of local doctors and may know something about them.

We are indebted to Health Promotion England for their help in compiling this section.