As part of the Children and Young People Act (Scotland) 2014, Health Visitors have been designated to be the Named Person for all children under 5 in Scotland. Implementation of the Named Person aspects of the Act is due to come into effect in August 2016. There is currently a shortage of Health Visitors across all Scottish Health Boards and the current level of students will not cover that gap. UNISON Scotland carried out a Freedom of Information request to find out the level of vacancies and the number of training places planned for by health boards.
A health visitor must already be a registered nurse or midwife. To become a health visitor they must complete further formal education and training (specialist children’s public health nursing). The period of further training lasts 12 months.
Due to historic under-resourcing of health visiting a significant number of registrants have chosen to selffund their training. As a result, recent ‘newly qualified; numbers have struggled to fill existing vacancies in the service. Recent policy initiatives by the Scottish Government have reversed that trend. In addition to the Freedom of Information request, we carried out an online survey to find out what our members thought of the new proposals and the implication for their workloads. We also asked them what information they had been given by their employers.