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Trainee health visitor numbers on the up

The number of trainee health visitors has trebled in the past year despite the level of full-time posts continuing to fall.

A DH report A Call to Action - One Year On - Health Visitor Implementation Progress Report claims the NHS has made "good progress" in its bid to gain an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015.

It is claimed the "vast majority" of the projected growth in health visitors will stem from an increase in trainee numbers.

According to the DH, last month saw over 500 newly qualified health visitors complete their training and enter the workforce.

Furthermore, there are more than 1,700 training commissions planned for 2011/12, which is said to be more than three times the number of health visitors coming out of training from the 2010/11 academic year.

Despite the rise in student levels, the total number of full-time qualified health visitors in England has fallen sharply from 8,285 in September 2009 to 7,677 in August 2011.

The East of England has seen the biggest drop in health visitor numbers, losing 16.3% from May 2010, and is closely followed by the South West region with 14.1% lost.

The North East of England and Yorks and Humber are the only two regions in England to have increased their health visitor numbers during the past 19 months with a gain of 17.9% and 0.9% respectively.

The government remains optimistic in the face of such figures and has said it expects to see a "significant" rise in health visitor numbers in post in Autumn 2012.

It also claims it has "received assurances" jobs will be made available for the growing numbers of student health visitors with additional posts funded through "significant government investment" and not through the dismantling of multi-disciplinary nursing teams as previously reported.

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"Where are the jobs for qualified health visitors?" - Leslie, Yorkshire