The government has set up a taskforce to oversee the implementation of its plans to dramatically increase the health visitor workforce by 2015, following concerns too few new jobs are being created.
Chaired by former assistant chief nurse Dame Elizabeth Fradd, the 15-strong committee will meet for the first time on Wednesday.
Members include head of the Royal College of Nursing Peter Carter, chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Dickon Weir-Hughes and president of the Community Health and Health Visitors’ Association Lord Victor Adebowale.
The announcement of the taskforce comes after Nursing Times research found about a third of primary care trusts had no plans to commission extra posts during 2011-12, the first year of the government’s four-year strategy to expand the health visitor workforce by 4,200 posts.
Many have complained they have no money to fund extra posts. A source close to the taskforce told Nursing Times its creation was a recent development designed to ensure “buy in” at the highest level of nursing.
Public health minister Anne Milton said the new taskforce would provide “strong leadership and ensure the new health visiting service model is universally adopted by 2015”.
Other senior nurses on the panel include Jill Maben, director of the National Nursing Research Unit, Anita McCrum, a health visitor currently working as NHS Yorkshire and the Humber’s senior public health nurse, and Liz Redfern, director of patient care and nurse workforce development at NHS South West.
Other members come from the fields of health education, local government and general practice.
Dame Elizabeth, a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor, said she was “pleased” to be chairing the taskforce which would play a “vital” role in delivering the extra health visitors.
She added: “The roles of health visitors, as well as nurses and midwives, are crucial to the improvement of the health and well-being of children and their families as well as the communities in which they live.”
The taskforce was announced as the department of education launched its vision to improve services for parents and children during the early years, of which health visitors play a central role.
Ms Milton said: “All the evidence indicates that the early years play a significant and formative role in shaping your health, wealth and happiness for the rest of your life. That is why we need to focus on this.”