Trainee health visitors have told public health minister Anne Milton they fear they will be unable to find a job when they qualify this September, despite a government pledge to boost recruitment.
The trainees raised their concerns with the minister and deputy chief nursing officer Viv Bennett during a webchat today on nursingtimes.net.
Former district nurse Ms Milton spent nearly 40 minutes taking questions about the government’s health visiting strategy. The plan was published in February and includes a commitment to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2014 – some of whom are expected to be retrained from the existing nursing workforce.
But one contributor currently in the final semester of health visitor training told Ms Milton the plan felt like “mere rhetoric at grassroots level”, and said there were no jobs to go to. “I have been a nurse for 21 years and this is the first time I have faced unemployment,” they said.
Another commenter told the minister more trainees were being taken on by her primary care trust, even though the current cohort of trainees had no job to go to.
Ms Milton insisted PCTs and strategic health authorities had the money to fund the extra posts and urged trainees and health visitors to contact her if they experienced local problems with training, placements or jobs.
However, Nursing Times has revealed at least one SHA is diverting funding away from training for nurses and other health professionals to meet the health visitor target.
As of last Friday, there are only 17 organisations currently advertising health visitor posts on the NHS Jobs website – on average one each.
Ms Milton and Ms Bennett were also asked about routes back into the profession. If a health visitor is still on the register they can be inducted back into the profession by working with a local HV team; if not they can take a return to practice course lasting between three and six months.
Anyone interested in becoming a health visitor or with concerns about the health visitor programme in their area can get in touch with Ms Milton and Ms Bennett via firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To read the webchat, go to nursingtimes.net/hvnurses