More than three-quarters of higher education institutions (HEIs) have reported cuts in training places for health visitors, with only 329 being trained in 2006/7 compared with 554 the year before, despite 798 applications for places. Eight out of 41 HEIs did not furnish data.
School nurse places were also down by 10 per cent, with 156 trained in this year compared with 175 in 2005/6, despite 218 applications.
The figures come after Bexley Care Trust suggested that secretaries, rather than trained health visitors, should weigh babies. The trust needs to save £12.3 million by March 2007 and the proposal from a health visitor manager has been put forward for discussion this week.
Obi Amadi, lead Amicus/CPHVA professional officer for health visiting said the move would leave health visitors liable for litigation and they could be struck off the register if something went wrong or vital signs of child abuse were missed.