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NHS "to learn Baby Peter lessons"

NHS children's services are to be reviewed in a bid to ensure lessons are learned from the Baby Peter tragedy, the health secretary has announced.

Andy Burnham addressed the "worrying" drop in health visitors across the country at a healthcare workers conference in Southport, where he vowed to increase numbers.

The pledge comes after figures revealed that although every newborn baby is visited by a health professional, one fulltime health visitor job was lost every 30 hours.

Mr Burnham told the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association conference that he expected to see a significant rise in health visitor numbers over the coming months.

"We want to see every area in the country with enough health visitors on the ground to provide a good Healthy Child Programme," he added.

He said that in future all PCTs will be required to publish information about  average case loads and the number of health visitors on their books.

Central targets will not be set for health visitor numbers, instead PCTS will be expected to take individual control, the health secretary explained.

"We need to give people the power at a local level to spend money where they think the priorities are," he added.

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"Yes. I am a health visitor working in a deprived area. I am very concerned about what I feel is an inadequate service due to the lack of staff" - Alex Hart, Buckinghamshire