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Health secretary pledges more health visitors in wake of Baby P tragedy


Stemming the flow of health visitors leaving the NHS is a priority in the aftermath of the Baby P scandal, health secretary Andy Burnham has told the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) conference.

Announcing a review of NHS children’s services, he pledged that the lessons of the Baby P tragedy would be learnt and that the number of health visitors across the country will be increased.

The health secretary said that although every newborn baby is visited by a health professional, NHS figures show that one full-time health visitor job is lost every day.

However, he added: “I expect to see a marked increase in the number of health visitors in the coming period.

“We want to see every area in the country with enough health visitors on the ground to provide a good healthy child programme - that’s the promise I’ve made.”

He said that every primary care trust will be obliged to take control and publish the number of health visitors on their books and their average case loads.

“We do need to give people the power at a local level to spend money where they think the priorities are,” he added.


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Readers' comments (3)

  • I left health visiting six months ago having been through yet another management restructure and a career opportunity given outside of health visiting.Caseloads were unmanageable,vacancies not filled dispite numerous data collections and proof of unsafe practice and little support from unions .Stress for colleagues and staff morale is at its all time low and dispite management filling its own vacancies the situation remains the same .One would hope hv's would be trained but I gather in the trust only two students will be trained this year ,numbers of hv's are leaving through stress or retirement.I hope a clear directive is given to trusts otherwise nothing will change and a lot of clinical expertise will be lost as more hv's leave the service

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  • It's good to see that once again the government is pledging to increase HV numbers. Given the forthcoming election I hope, for the sake of all the children and families we have responsibility for through our caseloads, that this is not just another empty promise to the profession.
    In addition, when requesting PCTs to publish HV numbers, it is essential that the dept of health specify only SCPHN numbers are included in their published totals. This would ensure areas that have substituted HVs for locally trained band 5s do not have the opportunity to provide inacurate, and misleading, totals. programmes

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  • I registered as a health visitor in 1982 and I've held some pretty hectic caseloads, but many PCTs are simply failing in their duty to offer a safe health visiting service.

    It just isn't enough to make a single new birth visit and leave a phone number or see clients only in impersonal clinics. Families who most need health visiting support and the least likely to use such disengaged services - they need home based outreach. And I'm not talking about well meaning amateurs and general or sick children's nurses - they just don't have the knowledge or confidence to tackle issues such as neglect or abuse, domestic violence or substance misuse.

    Without a proper health visiting register, NHS managers preoccupied with their budgets or futile reorganisations will continue to offer vulnerable families and children a 3rd rate service. After all, if children are left in families where they're neglected or abused, all the blame lands on the social workers, doesn't it?

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