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4,000 more health visitors needed to serve families

An extra 4,000 fulltime health visitors are needed to help the government meet its goal of providing intensive support for vulnerable families, Unite union says.

At the recent Labour party conference, Health Secretary Alan Johnson promised more health visitors and specialist nurses to tackle public health issues.

However recent NHS workforce statistics show that fulltime health visitor jobs are being lost each day.

Unite/Community's Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association has advised the government that the current postcode lottery should be avoided and replaced with a "robust universal health visiting service" for all families.  

Cheryll Adams, Unite/CPHVA Acting Lead Professional Officer, said: "To employ 4,000 more health visitors is a drop in the ocean taken in the context of an annual NHS budget of more than £100 bn - but the results in terms of the public health of the next generation and reduced costs for secondary care services, such as mental health, could be spectacular."

They are also calling for a maximum case load of 300 families per health visitor.

Cheryll Adams adds: "If this investment is made the government will be acknowledging that by investing in preventative services there is benefit to the NHS care budget."