The decision to appoint 24 more fulltime specialist community nurses in Barking and Dagenham has been hailed as "a massive leap forward in public health for the East London borough", Unite the Union has said.
Unite said the decision by the Barking and Dagenham Primary Care Trust (PCT) goes a long way to reverse the health visitor vacancy rate running at 45% in one of the capital's most deprived boroughs.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA), has been strongly campaigning for the creation for new jobs against the backdrop of a health visiting workforce coping with individual caseloads of up to nearly 4,000 children.
Unite also welcomed the commitment of the PCT to train nine new specialist community public health nurses (SCPHNs) for the academic year, starting in September 2009. Unite says the lack of training for new SCPHNs is a UK-wide problem.
Unite/CPHVA Professional Officer Dave Munday said: "We are not sure of the breakdown of the new jobs between the number of health visitors and school nurses, but this investment in the public health agenda by the trust, following last week's crisis talks with Unite, is warmly welcomed."
Mr Munday added: "We wish to work with the trust to ensure that this massive leap forward benefits the families and children in Barking and Dagenham."