The “crucial role” of health visitors in Scotland has been recognised with an 18% increase to their starting salary.
Health visitors in the country will now begin as a band 7 on the Agenda for Change scale with a minimum pay of £33,222 progressing up to £43,471.
”Health visitors deserve more financial recognition for the job that they do”
Previously, they would have started as a band 6 earning £28,050 and rising to £37,010.
The job description of the health visitor has also been renewed.
The changes have been agreed between NHS employers and health trade unions across Scotland including the Royal College of Nursing.
Norman Provan, associate director of the RCN in Scotland, was among those who led the review.
He said: “Health visitors play a crucial role in supporting parents and children through the early years.
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“The importance of their contribution to the health and wellbeing of our communities needed to be reflected in the pay that these specialist nurses receive,” Mr Provan said.
He added: “The RCN pushed to have the job re-evaluated and we are pleased that the process confirmed our position – that health visitors deserve more financial recognition for the job that they do.”
“Let’s hope Scotland leads the way for the rest of the UK”
Dr Cheryll Adams
He added that the new job description and banding had been agreed nationally and were now due to be applied by health boards.
The move comes as the health visitor vacancy rate in Scotland hits 9.5%.
Dr Cheryll Adams, executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting, welcomed the move and said she hoped the rest of the UK would follow suit.
“We know that all health visitors meet the criteria to be on band 7 but unfortunately until now they haven’t been banded as such,” Dr Adams told Nursing Times.
“Let’s hope Scotland leads the way for the rest of the UK but that will require much better understanding of the health visitors’ contribution to reducing use of other services,” she said.
Dr Adams added: “Properly funded health visitors would quickly deliver significant economic returns to the NHS, social care and the criminal justice system.”
Latest figures show the number of health visitors in the NHS workforce in England has plummeted to 7,768, which is the lowest level since September 2012.
The boost for health visitors in Scotland follows changes revealed earlier this year for student nurses and midwives.
The government announced bursaries for those studying these courses would rise to £10,000 a year by 2020-21.
Student intake is also set to increase in 2019-20 for the seventh consecutive year.