Speaking at the annual conference of Unite/Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA) in Harrogate, Anne Milton MP said the Government pledged to create 4,200 new health visitor jobs by the end of this Parliament - increasing the workforce by 50 per cent in five years.
The minister said, 'The health visiting profession has been eroded dramatically over the past decade. That's why we are funding 4,200 new posts and improving training. Investing in health visitors is investing in the future health and well-being of our children, families and communities.'
Unite's assistant general secretary for public services, Gail Cartmail, said, 'We welcome this announcement, which is the culmination of years of campaigning by Unite to see the reversal in the decline in the health visitor workforce. However, the devil will be in the detail as to how this will happen quickly and efficiently.'
Unite national officer for health, Karen Reay called it a 'beacon of light in a tidal wave of deprivation that is going to engulf the population because of the draconian cuts announced by George Osborne'.
Unite and CPHVA recommends that each health visitor has a maximum caseload of 250 children. However, it claims that many are currently buckling under caseloads of more than 600.
Health visitors' traditional role has changed over the years and there is now more of an emphasis on health visitors helping to safeguard children.
A new SAFER referral tool helping them to do this was launched at the Unite/CPHVA conference.
The referral tool has been designed to help health visitors make critical decisions and sets out what information they need to give social care colleagues.