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Health Visitors

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase health visitor numbers; what role the primary care trusts will have in this; and if they will receive extra funding to assist them. [109123]

We have been successful in increasing the number of nurses working in the national health service with 39,500 more than in 1997, increasing the pool from which health visitors can be drawn.Figures from workforce development confederations (WDCs) show they are planning to increase the number of health visitor training places they commission over the next two years.

A number of initiatives are being taken forward to support primary care trusts with the recruitment, retention and return to practice of health visitors and other primary care practitioners. These include:

Establishment of a primary care nursing recruitment, retention and return practice project to support PCTs who have difficulties with the recruitment and retention of primary care nurses and health visitors.
Launch of a dedicated primary care recruitment advert and flyer to promote return to health visiting practice.
Commissioning of a primary care nursing workforce planning toolkit to support PCTs and WDCs.
Funding of a project to support PCTs in developing more flexible entry routes into primary care for nurses.

It is for PCTs and WDCs to determine the health visiting workforce required to tackle local and national health priorities and inequalities. 75 per cent. of the total NHS budget has now been allocated to PCTs and there will be sustained growth with an average 28 per cent. growth per PCT over the next three years.