A new survey has been launched to discover whether the current 40% drop in health visitor training places will be reversed in 2008.
The probe by Unite/Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA) is aimed at discovering what plans the 51 Higher Education Establishments (HEIs) across the UK are making to expand the training places for health visitors and school nurses for the coming academic year.
The survey also asks if cuts in the Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (SCPHN) courses have resulted in teaching staff being made redundant or 'frozen' academic posts at particular HEIs.
The number of health visitors trained in England during 2005-6 was 554, but in 2006-7, this dropped to 329 - a 40% cut. This was despite 798 potential students applying for places at the HEIs for 2006-7. The figures for school nurse training were also bleak, with 175 trained in 2005-6 and 156 in 2006-7 - a 10% cut.
The reasons given for this decline were: strategic health authorities stopping commissioning the SCPHN courses and primary care trusts (PCTs) pleading poverty.
CPHVA Professional Officer, Gill Devereaux commented: 'The recent review gives hope that there could be a renaissance in the profession, but for that to happen there needs to be an expansion in the current number of training places available for 2007-8.'