Evidence to the prime minister's Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery calls for action to reverse the profession's decline.
Unite points out that the fall in new health visitor registrants from 717 in 2004 to 253 in 2008 ‘should be seen as a ‘national scandal'.
Unite urges the Commission to recommend that health visiting is once again legally defined in statute, as it was between 1909 and 2004. This would stop less qualified health professionals doing the health visitor job.
Unite says that there has been a 13% drop in whole-time equivalent health visitors since 1998. Numbers of live births in this period has increased 8.5%.
Problems include many families in NHS Hounslow with new babies are being seen up to four months after the birth, instead of the recommended 10-14 days for new birth visits.
- Should there be a new fast-track route into health visiting?
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