Families across Norfolk have been given an early Christmas gift of over 60 extra health visitors after a recruitment campaign by a community health trust.
Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) has increased its number of health visitors by 69, since the start of an initiative to expand staffing levels within the service and further improve the service given to thousands of families across the county. The Trust now employs 160, full-time health visitors, with eight more completing their training in the New Year.
This increase has been in response to a Government initiative to boost health visitor numbers by 4200 nationally: “A Call to Action; the Health Visitor Implementation Plan”, began in February 2011 and runs until March 2015. As a result of this, NCH&C has taken on more students and encouraged health visitors who have had a break from the profession, to return to practice.
All student health visitors are required to be qualified nurses or midwives before they can take up the training – a full-time, one-year degree course or post-graduate diploma, at University Campus Suffolk, in Ipswich.
Currently serving 42,500 children under five years old, and their families, across Norfolk, NCH&C health visitors offer support, starting in pregnancy, through the early weeks of life and throughout childhood. At the same time they provide, and can be the gateway to other services which families may need.
Maria Richardson, Healthy Child Programme Clinical Lead, said: “The last four years have been very exciting. Training so many new health visitors and developing the skills of our current staff has been challenging, but we are pleased we have more health visitors to deliver services to all the children and families across Norfolk.
“Health visitors can provide support to parents with a new baby; identify a child with speech and language problems who would benefit from early help, or help families access other local services, like parenting or relationship advice through their local Sure Start Children’s Centre, at the right time for them.
“The increase means that every child will have a named health visitor and be seen at least five times for an assessment of their development before they go to school.”
The Trust is looking to further increase its health visitor numbers next year, with the next round of student places being advertised in February 2015.
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