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Health visitor strategy plans for 6,000 new recruits

Public health minister and former nurse Anne Milton has launched the government’s strategy to “rejuvenate” the health visitor workforce.

The Health Visitors Implementation Plan sets out how the government will meet its target of expanding the health visitor workforce by 4,200 over the next four years.

It promises to deal with the concerns of some health visitors who feel undervalued by introducing an improved career structure, and reinforces links between Sure Start children’s centres and health visitors.

Launching the strategy, Ms Milton said: “Health visitors play such an important role – they give families that vital extra bit of support they need in their children’s early years. We need more of them so they can reclaim their role in the heart of our communities and at the centre of family life.

”As well as new recruits, we also want to encourage those who have left the profession to return. And we will offer existing health visitors the chance to refresh and develop their skills - helping to improve career opportunities and retention.

“Now is an exciting time to join what promises to be a rewarding, dynamic and essential service.”

To account for health visitors that are likely to retire, the government estimates an extra 6,000 nurses or midwives will need to be recruited into the profession and is working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to develop more flexible training options.

The flexibility could come through increasing the use of “accredited prior experiential learning” (APEL), where nurses who have experience working in the community could receive credits towards their registration.

Having seen a draft version of the plan, Nursing Times last week revealed the NMC had been asked to review entry requirements for the third part of the register which covers nurses who work in the community.

Chief nursing officer Dame Christine Beasley and deputy chief executive of the NHS David Flory wrote to strategic health authorities and primary care trusts this week reminding them of their responsibility, set out in the operating framework, to ensure enough training places are commissioned to develop a “stronger health visiting service”.

The regions will have to increase the number of health visitors by an average of 51.9% over the plan period.

Unite’s lead professional officer Obi Amadi welcomed the recruitment drive and described the plan as “a rare piece of hopeful news”.

She said: “We plan to work with ministers to see this through to its conclusion and beyond the 2015 target date. Achieving this number will require a real effort by all concerned, but we think it can be done.

“The strategic health authorities have been given to the end of March to come up with plans as to how they will implement this action plan. We will be watching closely how this is all panning out.”

She added: “The plan has been a long time coming and we won’t expect a large tranche of new health visitors being trained until the academic year 2012-13.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter backed the strategy.

He said: “Health visitors carry out a range of measures which have a lifelong positive impact on the health and quality of the life of children. The Royal College of Nursing welcomes the opportunity to work closely with government in its endeavours to break what can sometimes be a cycle of deprivation.”

Do you want your voice to be heard? Make a difference today and sign our ‘seat on the board’ petition to get nurses actively involved in the new commissioning consortia.

Readers' comments (9)

  • ok! can we make sure these people have children and live in the real world and not use other peoples children for practise to complete there degree i am feed up off people thinking thay no the people and only known them five minuites then dictate to them. we have freedom of choice now? and where has this money appeared from when the is other cuts that are more important?

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  • ya good work never hits the headlines?

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  • sounds wonderful but what about funding for maintaining and improving front line services and other essential services which must have priority. it sounds as though the nhs is going to continue merely patching things up and providing patchwork services instead of making real efforts of steamlining services to keep up to date with the current and evolving healthcare needs and demands of the nation. In 50 years time we will probably still be having similar debates with even less resources at our disposal! Time everybody responsible woke up to the reality of balancing resources with actual needs.

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  • ya its true back to nightingale days : a bit a bed sheet and a rag for a dressing then boil the dressings after use nothing changed 11-feb 1:54pm i am glad itsint only me.

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  • why are some of you writing in street slang?

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  • I feel that the first comment that has been made is very narrow minded. Just because you have not had children does not mean that that you can not support somebody who has, after all not every cardiac nurse has had a M.I, not every orthopedic nurse has broken a bone but I am sure they are still competent enough to care for their patients. I feel that every aspect of the NHS needs to be considered in regards to government cuts. Shouldn't we stand united rather than having a dig at other specialist areas of practice that people have worked hard to achieve.

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  • Anonymous | 18-Feb-2011 3:03 pm

    Ouf!
    I believe the purpose of the comments is to comment on and discuss the article and not to attack the views of other commentators!

    There is apparently currently a lack of funds in frontline services where patients undergoing hospital treatments are suffering as a result and surely this should have first priority and then all the little luxuries can follow as more funding hopefully becomes available again, but where there is as yet no guarantee.

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  • As a qualified Health Visitor I believe that a large number of Health Visitors (based upon remarks past and discussions held amongst ourselves) would leave Health Visitng at the earliest opportunity due to the fact that we now do not perform the role in public health and regarding support that we once did. We are being used as cheap management of teams whereby although, only paid as a 6, we run skill mix teams. If you discussed with Health Visitors whether they would rather be "hands on" most would respond that the reason that they trained for this profession was to be hands on. An example of this is regarding the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scoring - why would I delegate this task to another person, when I underook the original assessment! Unless I can see through my RGN's eyes, how would I know the subtle changes in the condition of the living accomodation or any decline in mood. But, we are now asked to delegate this task and be ACCOUNTABLE for any deficit in care that may result in depression being missed!

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  • You might be interested to know that where I work in Scotland, Children's Services are being transferred to Highland Council. Therefore, all HVs, SNs and AHPs will no longer be employed by the NHS but by local government.

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