Profession at crisis point as caseload rises

05 June 2019

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite national officer for health, calls for action on numbers of health visitors and urges CPs to ask branches for support in attending conference.

With the royal baby having received his first visit from a health visitor, Unite-CPHVA must continue to highlight the continuing travails of the profession, where a dramatic fall in HV numbers is increasing the caseload burden.

The latest figures from NHS Digital reveal the lowest number of HVs in England since September 2012 (NHS Workforce Statistics, January 2019 Staff Group, Care Setting and Level). There were 7694 HVs in England in January, a fall of 25% since their peak of more than 10,000 in October 2015.

While Harry and Meghan’s son will want for nothing when it comes to healthcare, millions of families are being affected by the ‘salami slicing’ of health visiting.

The reasons for this crisis are: lack of political will by the government; cutbacks to local government funding; and a reduction of training places for the new generation of HVs.

All these factors mean HVs now look after more under-fives than the 250 maximum Unite-CPHVA-recommended caseload.

We must extol the enviable reputation that HVs have built over the decades.

No more poor relation

Unite-CPHVA is making the case for continuous investment in public health services for children and young people, rather than these services being treated as the poor relation in the health service ‘family’.

The association is demanding that HVs be central to the public health agenda. It calls on the English government to:

  • Reverse the cuts to health visiting since 2015
  • Reinstate the student health bursaries in England
  • Bring back commissioning of health visiting from local councils to the NHS
  • Ensure health visiting remains universal and not reduced to a selective service
  • Stop less qualified health staff doing what are considered the more skilled health visiting roles.

We are also asking Unite-CPHVA members to tell us what is happening in their service:

  • What is your employer’s average caseload?
  • Are there incidents, where you work, of non-HVs making new-birth visits?
  • Have you raised safe staffing concerns with your employer in the last year, and what was the outcome?

Please send your responses to [email protected]

We wish baby Archie a long and healthy life – but hope all his young contemporaries, too, receive ‘a right royal’ health visiting experience.



Your branch can help you to visit conference

We have written to Unite-CPHVA branch secretaries to ask them to consider supporting Unite-CPHVA community practitioner members and activists to attend this year’s conference, which will take place in Harrogate on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 October. The CPHVA AGM will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday 15 October in Harrogate.

If you want support from your Unite-CPHVA branch to attend conference, it is worthwhile attending branch meetings to:

  • Keep in touch and hear news and information about what’s happening across the NHS in your local area.
  • Let other Unite members in the health sector know what is going on in community public health services.
  • Ask for support from CPs in your area – whether that is solidarity, political, physical or financial assistance.

The branch has the resources to assist CPs in their locality. But this is more likely to happen when CPs engage and participate.

For more information about assistance to go to the Unite-CPHVA conference this year, contact us on [email protected]



Image credit | Getty Images