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New registrants encouraged to consider health visiting

The Department of Health is to write to all newly qualified nurses and midwives encouraging them to consider a career in health visiting as part of its drive to expand the workforce.

In the past entrants onto health visitor courses have had to have experience working as a nurse or midwife before being considered, although there was no official requirement for them to do so.

However, in the next couple of months letters are due to go out to all nurses and midwives who joined the register during 2010-11 telling them about career opportunities in health visiting.

Lead professional officer for the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association Obi Amadi told Nursing Times some newly qualified nurses and midwives would be mature enough and have relevant experience to go straight into health visiting, but there was concern the drive for numbers could reduce the quality of new recruits.

The government has committed to increasing the number of health visitors in post by 4,200 by 2015, equivalent to a 50% increase in the workforce.

Senior health visitor advisor Cheryll Adams, who sits on the DH’s healthy child programme expert group, told Nursing Times there had been anxiety in the profession that pressure from ministers to boost workforce numbers would lead to the wrong people being recruited. But she said she had seen no evidence of that happening so far.

“If you bring the wrong people into training, it’s a really expensive mistake and expensive for families,” she added.

The plans to send out the letters are contained in a DH review of the first year of the health visitor implementation plan, which was launched last February.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has already written to thousands of former health visitors to encourage them to return to practice.


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