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4,200 new health visitors promised

Thousands more families will benefit from an increased number of health visitors who give advice and support, and play an important role in safeguarding children, Public Health Minister Anne Milton has confirmed.

A national recruitment drive to create 4,200 new health visitors and build a rejuvenated profession is being announced today. This means the numbers of health visitors working closely with families in the community will increase by almost 50%.

Creating a new modern health visiting profession will be achieved by:

  • Creating 4,200 new health visitor positions.
  • A new improved training programme.
  • A focus on recruiting and retaining workers.
  • Creating a new vision and identity for the profession.

Anne Milton said: "Health visitors play such an important role. They give support and advice to families and can make a huge difference to the lives of children.

"The health visiting profession has been eroded dramatically over the past decade. That's why we are funding 4,200 new posts and improving training.

"We need to attract new people into the profession and to keep the health visitors we have. We will fund a national recruitment drive that will show the vital work health visitors do in supporting families and boosting public health.

"Investing in health visitors is investing in the future health and wellbeing of our children, families and communities."

This commitment is a mark of how central health visitors will be in the government's future plans. Health visitors, working at the front line in young families' homes, are in a unique position to help:

  • Prevent illness and injury.
  • Children get the best start in life.
  • Ensure wider community support is at hand for families who need it.

Over the past 25 years society and families have changed. There are now more families with complex needs and health visitors need to be able to respond to these changes. As well as the traditional aspect of the role, giving advice and support to new mothers, health visitors also have an important role in safeguarding children and referring onto specialist services.

To ensure the process of referrals is as easy and smooth as possible a new SAFER referral tool has been developed and is being launched today at the Unite Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association conference.

Chief Nursing Officer, Chris Beasley, said:

"This new SAFER referral tool will improve communications between key health and protection agencies and support us in making our children safer.

"We have worked closely with health visitors to develop this new way of working to ensure referrals to specialist services work better for families that are vulnerable and have complex needs.

"By working together we can move health visiting in a very exciting direction and make an even bigger difference to family health and wellbeing."


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"As an ex-health visitor this is good news but the increase should be UK wide. In Glasgow, many highly experienced health visitors have left the profession in disgust at the continual erosion of their role, the ever-increasing irrelevant and unwieldy amount of paperwork, no clerical support and increased number of unnecessary managers who have little or no direct input to families yet are rewarded with a higher pay band than the overworked, undervalued and underpaid health visitors they 'manage'. It is a disgrace. Frontline experienced health visitors should be given the Band 7 pay which the post deserves - this would increase both retention within and recruitment into the profession" - Gale McCallum, Glasgow

"Thank god, after 23 years in the job I'm on my knees, send in reinforcements please. Uh oh it doesn't include Scotland does it!" - Jane Lofthouse, Scotland