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NMC launches bid to lure former health visitors back to work


Letters are being sent to thousands of former health visitors in a bid to boost recruitment efforts, amid claims from unions that the national plan to increase their numbers is faltering.  

The Nursing and Midwifery Council announced today that it would be contacting health visitors with lapsed registrations during October to encourage them to return to practice. It forms part of the government’s programme, launched in February, to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015.

However, the move comes amid warnings from unions that health visitor numbers are continuing to decline across the country.

Unite, which includes the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, claimed today that the national recruitment drive was faltering. It said figures from the NHS Information Centre showed seven out of the 10 strategic health authorities reporting a decline in the number of health visitors over the last year.

Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi said: “Official figures have shown that the recruitment drive is faltering and the number of health visitors is actually falling in many parts of England, with London and the East of England being particularly hard hit.

“The government needs to consider ring-fencing health visitor budgets to meets its pledge. The government gave the SHAs an extra 3 per cent on top of baseline funding for health visitors, but it appears it hasn’t been used.”

The government’s health visitor strategy promised to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors on top of 8,092 full time equivalents practising in England, as of May 2010.

A Department of Health spokesman said SHAs planned to train 1,818 health visitors in 2011, up from 545 the previous year. At 1 September they had filled 1,296 training places, and expected the 522 gap to be filled by another intake between January and March.

NHS North West, however, announced at the end of last month that it would be increasing its number of health visitor training posts due to concerns its original plans were insufficient to meet staffing needs.

The SHA has boosted training posts from 603 to 715 to meet the government’s recruitment drive after the DH raised questions about its original plan.

“DH modelling suggested that numbers of leavers would be greater than the [strategic health authority’s] estimates and that less newly trained HVs would work full time than SHA planning assumptions,” stated a report by the region’s chief nurse Jane Cummings.


Readers' comments (7)

  • What a joke. Maybe they should start addressing the conditions that make both Nurses and health visitors leave the profession in the first place before they start trying to get them back in!

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  • I agree Mike, my friend has just resigned from her health visitor's post because of the unmanageable caseload and the amount of stress it caused her. It's all very well but there do actually have to be jobs for them to go to with manageable caseloads (she had inherited the the caseloads of 2 other health visitors when they went through restructuring 2 years ago) So that there is even the remotest chance that people will return to practice!

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  • In order to lure something, one has to weild effective bait. What with the current state of the NHS, peoples' attitudes towards health professionals and the govenment effectively holding their hands over their ears and shouting loudly 'nanananananana', this is, effectively, the NMC holding out a turd on a stick and expecting former health visitors to say 'Hmmm, how lovely. I'll have some of that."

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  • As a Health Visitor working in Scotland I find it laughable that we were sent this in the first place. We work in a very different way to our English colleagues plus we are in the process of integration, which means basically that from April next year our employers will be Highland Council and not NHS. No mention of that in the letter!!

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  • This has to change somehow. I think it's easier for returning HVs to challenge bad management practice and appalling unsafe caseloads than colleague's who've had this unsafe practice imposed from the start of their HV careers.

    Those who are returning are not all sweet old biddies and some of us will fight alongside you to change this madness.

    Personally, I can't wait to get back, but heaven help any stupid manager who tries to curb my effective professional practice!

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  • Following receipt of the recent NMC/DH 'Strengthening practice' HV letter -I immediatley wrote to, and even recieved a reply(!!). I complained that my local area has not been recruiting - not even for bank staff following my 'early' retirement last year! I was all prepared to offer my services for at least 2 days/week, but despite my colleagues begging me to get on the HV Bank due to their large caseloads and related reduction in quality of HV care, I have been unable to access any HV Bank work. During one phone call to the Trust, I was even advised that I could register for the Community Nurse Bank, but I am not prepared to take a 20 year back-step in my hourly rate or be expected to work below my professional capabilities. With almost 40years of nursing experience - it would be impossible to try and 'work to grade', and also I could become a 'cheap fix' for the PCT, so I said Thanks, but No Thanks! Agenda for Change did not give nurses a decent uplift in salary, and considering the amount and depth of training, plus CPD and PREPP, some of the SHA's/PCTs seem to be literally taking the P. I have applied for and have now been invited to interview for a part-time senior role in a large city based PCT. At least they have the balls and resources to be recruiting staff with highly skilled HV backgrounds!

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  • to Kathryn Johnson, I whole heartedly aggree with the comments above and left Health Visiting due to being asked to act as a "Social Worker" and only perform birth visits and child protection - not what I was trained to due and very poor use of my abilities as a Health Visitor. I am currently hoping to re-enter the profession and return to the job I love to do, whhich is support families and children with breastfeeding, postnatal depression and all the things that i trained to do in the first place!! We were (and probably still are) asked to prove ourselves constantly, yet there is a whole raft of research and feedback from groups such as mumsnet to prove that we (for the most part) offer a damn good service and a worthwhile one.
    By the way Kathryn there is a nursing agency actively looking for Health Visitors to fill contracts to work as Health Visitors (NRS Global) and the rate of pay is £20 per hour minimum.

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