Plans to get health visitors in Scotland to take on new child welfare responsibilities could fail without extra funding, nursing leaders have warned.
Under a new law every child and young person in Scotland will have an official “named person” that children and families can contact if they need help or have concerns.
The Scottish Government expects the role, aimed at ensuring families access support quickly and easily, will be undertaken by health visitors for under fives.
However, the Royal College of Nursing said this would require the recruitment and training of hundreds of new health visitors.
Without extra funding the government “will be setting health visitors up to fail”, the union warned.
“We are concerned that there are not enough health visitors currently in place to meet even the needs of their existing caseloads,” said RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe.
“Using the Scottish Government’s own estimate of health visiting hours required to deliver the named person role specifically – on top of the
ir existing workload – an extra 450 health visitors need to be trained and recruited. Yet the Scottish Government has not committed to funding this.”
The named person role is just one of the changes enshrined in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, expected to be passed by the Scottish Parliament today.
A named person will be a first point of contact for families but can also be alerted to welfare concerns by other professionals.
When a concern is raised, the named person – usually a teacher once a child starts school – is then responsible for taking action to ensure a child or family gets the right help.