Care services minister Ivan Lewis (pictured) has accused primary care trusts of failing to give health visitors the recognition they deserve.
In a House of Commons debate he acknowledged the difficulties faced by the service, which trade unions fear is being targeted for NHS cuts and is facing staff shortages.
This is despite the government saying that health visitors should play a lead role in providing intensive services for babies in families with multiple problems.
Lewis told MPs: “Too often primary care trusts do not regard the contribution that they make as being as powerful and important as it is.”
The Department of Health has launched a review of the service.