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More trainees for health visitors to boost workforce

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Health visitors will be encouraged to supervise more than one student at a time in a bid to achieve the government’s target of 4,200 more health visitors in post by 2015.

The government last week announced 20 “early implementer sites” – two from each strategic health authority region – that will lead the way on the government’s new health visiting strategy, published earlier this year.

The strategy aims to provide a “universal” health visiting service by 2015, which provides a comprehensive and integrated range of services for communities.

Speaking to Nursing Times following the launch of the implementers, chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley said the strategy could not be achieved without enough health visitors to train new recruits, regardless of how much money was invested in it.

“[Health visitor] clinical practice teachers will have only had one student; frankly that doesn’t happen anywhere else. The Nursing and Midwifery Council guidance says they can have three,” Dame Christine said.

The NMC standards stipulate that ideally practice teachers should support one student at a time but will accept practice teachers supervising up to three students at once if they have support from mentors.

Dame Christine said she expected some of the new health visitor recruits to be newly qualified nurses who had been unable to get a nursing job due to “changes around the clinical workforce”.

She also encouraged existing health visitors approaching retirement to think about continuing to work flexibly, for example having a six month break then returning to work for two or three days a week.

Obi Amadi, Unite lead professional officer and a former health visitor, warned it could “defeat the object” of the strategy, if some health visitors ended up with an even bigger workload as a result of taking on more than one trainee.


The Twenty Early Implementer Health Visiting sites comprise two from each Strategic Health Authority:
Early Implementer HV sites by SHA
1. East Midlands SHA
A.  NHS Northamptonshire Provider Services
B. Derbyshire Community Health Services
2. East of England SHA
A. NHS Norfolk
B. NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney
3. London SHA
A. City and Hackney – Homerton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Inner North East London cluster
B. Haringey and Islington – Whittington Hospital NHS Trust
North Central London cluster
4. North East SHA
A. County Durham and Darlington PCT cluster    
B. South of Tyne and Wear PCT cluster
5. North West SHA
A. Blackpool Health Visiting Services
B. Wirral Health Visiting Services
6. South Central SHA
A. NHS Buckinghamshire
B. NHS Solent
7. South East Coast SHA
A. NHS East Sussex Downs and Weald and NHS Hastings & Rother PCT
B. Medway Community Healthcare
8. South West SHA
A. Banes PCT
B. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Community Health Services Trust
9. West Midlands SHA
A. NHS Stoke on Trent
B. NHS Warwickshire Community Health
10. Yorkshire and Humber SHA
A. NHS Leeds
B. NHS Doncaster


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