Over 1800 health visitors need to be recruited within 12 months if the government is to achieve its five-year pledge to boost numbers, according to research published by the HSCIC.
The coalition promised to increase the number of health visitors by 4200 when they came to power in 2010. So far, 2332 new health visitors have been hired, meaning that the government will need to employ an additional 1886 to meet the target. Statistics show that there 1566 students enrolled on health visitor courses beginning in 2013.
Gavin Fergie, professional officer in Unite's health sector, said: 'The numbers are perhaps not being met as a result of the other issues that have affected practitioners such as the cut to NHS pay, the increase in pension contribution, the cuts to aligned services. Our own findings have highlighted that due to these changes, experienced health visitors have left the service earlier than they might have done and this has accelerated the demographic reality of the older practitioner that is the health visiting workforce.'
The largest increase in health visitors was in the south of England, where numbers rose from 1839 in May 2010 to 2452 in April 2014, a 33.3 per cent increase. London had the smallest increase, with a rise of 17.1 per cent from 1151 health visitors in May 2010, to 1336 in April 2014.