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Thursday 29 September 2016
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Ministers asked to clarify health visitor numbers

Union Unite is seeking ministerial clarification on what the new children's plan means in terms of the immediate employment of health visitors.

Unite is concerned that the government's Vision for a 21st century children's health service, published yesterday (12 February 2009), is vague on the numbers needed for what is described as "stronger and better joined-up support during the crucial early years of life, including more health visitors".

Unite's National Officer for Health, Karen Reay said: "This strategy for children is long on aspirations and thin on detail, at a time when – according to the NHS's own workforce statistics – a fulltime health visitor post is lost every 27 hours.

"Unite has always maintained that a universal health visiting service is required for all. Parents have made it clear that they want a universal home visiting service and a relationship with their own health visitor.

"The whole purpose of this plan will crumble if there are not enough trained and experienced health visitors implementing a universal programme of assessment and care for families and communities."

Karen Reay said that Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association, will be asking ministers:

  • How many more health visitors are budgeted for and when will they come on stream?
  • Have the cuts in the health visitor education budgets been restored to enable this to happen?
  • Why is this strategy moving away from an international, highly respected model of a universal home visiting health visitor service?
  • Why does the government persist in a policy that fails to recognise the need for a universal health visiting service, particularly in the wake of such tragedies as the Victoria Climbe and Baby P cases?

Karen Reay said: "Unite has always supported this government's 'family-friendly' agenda since 1997, but remains concerned that the rhetoric is not matched by the depressing reality on the frontline, which our members report back to us on a daily basis."

Unite