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Unite wants a 20% rise in health visitors in Scotland

Scotland needs to increase its number of health visitors by a fifth to sustain the service, according to unions.

Unite and other nursing bodies, including the Royal College of Nursing and the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, have called for a commitment to health visiting in the new Children and Young People (Scotland) bill.

They are warning that there is insufficient provision for health visitors in the bill. The first thing they want the Scottish government to do is to legally commit to health visiting and boost the 1,200-strong workforce by 20% to cover the many visitors who are nearing retirement age.

Health visiting must be right at the heart of provision for children and families, said Unite’s professional officer for Scotland, Gavin Fergie, who advised that it should be a key part of any new legislation.

He welcomed the government’s support for young mothers through the family nurse partnership (FNP), but said the rest of the population of Scotland now need their health requirements accounted for and called for more health visitors to allow this to happen.

Mr Fergie said if the government wants Scotland to be “the best country in the world to grow up in” it needs to act right away to alleviate the pressure the FNP is causing on the country’s health visitors. He said Scotland must respond to the move in England to increase its number of health visitors by 4,200 by 2015.

He urged all those who support Unite’s stance to sign a petition for more health visitors. It will be sent to the parliamentary committee that is responsible for drawing up the bill and also to the cabinet secretary for health and well being, Alex Neil.

The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association is part of Unite.


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