The government has been urged to "get a grip" on health visitor recruitment by the union Unite.
Unite claims official figures from the NHS Information Centre have shown the health visitor recruitment drive is "faltering".
Seven out of ten strategic health authorities (SHA) in England have also reported a decline in the number of health visitors in the last year.
The union has called for health visiting budgets to be ringfenced if it is to meet its pledge to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors.
"The government gave the SHAs an extra 3% on top of baseline funding for health visitors, but it appears it hasn't been used," said Unite's Lead Professional Officer Obi Amadi.
"The government needs to take a good look at ringfencing budgets, otherwise the money is not going to be spent on what it should be."
The Health Visitor Implementation Plan, published in February, set out a provisional target to have trained an extra 1,135 health visitors by the end of March 2012.
Since the government revealed its plan, however, the overall number of health visitors has dropped by 213 to 7,879.
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