The union Unite, which includes the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, has launched a campaign to legally protect the title “health visitor”.
The union wants the title recognised in law as it was until 2001. It argues that without this legal protection less qualified staff can take on health visiting duties, meaning the public is less protected.
The union says that the change in legal status has made it easier for primary care trusts to cut back on health visitors and employ less qualified staff. There has been a 13.5 per cent drop in health visitors in England in the last four years, according to the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care.
Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi said: “This campaign is not about legal complexities, but restoring the status of a 150-year old profession, so that the public is protected and the important health visiting services to communities and families are restored.
“Less well-qualified staff could, in certain circumstances, be less able to detect concerns at an early stage.”