In 2011 the government introduced the health visiting implementation plan a call to action 2011-2015. This plan aimed to increase health visitor numbers to improve outcomes for children, public health and early intervention, after years of cuts and huge caseloads for current health visitors. After having my third child I received one of the promotional leaflets encouraging nurses and midwives to train to be a health visitor and so in 2013 I commenced the most toughest course I have ever completed. I mean who is crazy enough to complete a degree in a year, whilst attending placements as well, well apparently me and another 50+ students on the course with me.
On qualifying, the implementation plan was coming to an end with around 6 months remaining, the plan aimed to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors by the end in 2015. However, many places unfortunately did not meet the target numbers, therefore certain areas continued to struggle, with limited health visitors for the amount of children in the area. Then in October 2015 commissioning of health visiting services changed over to local authorities and put many services under pressure as public health budgets began to be cut. To gain a better understanding of the changes the Institute of Health Visiting have produced some useful information on working in partnership with local authorities, in order to understand how they work and how best to work together. Yet this has since lead to many becoming concerned over the future of health visiting and moral has since fallen amongst staff, causing health visitors to start leaving the profession again. Caseloads then begin to raise and stress levels increase for those left behind. Plus a number of professionals who trained under the plan discovered that health visiting unfortunately wasn’t for them and have since returned to old roles or gone on to others.
This month however is my 2 year anniversary of being a fully qualified health visitor and I as many other health visitors understand the pressures of monthly targets, with often very large safeguarding numbers as well, which unfortunately do not get counted in these targets, due to them not being one of the 456 mandatory contacts delivered by health visitors.
Despite all of this, I still love health visiting and for me it was the best decision I ever made in my career as a nurse and I feel passionate about my role. Yes some days can be tough and there are never enough hours in the day to completely get on top of my caseload and feel in control but hey I don’t mind. Health visiting is where I want to be and hopefully is where I can stay, in order to provide an essential, well needed, universal service to all families. I am proud to say ‘I am a health visitor’ and will be celebrating #HVweek from 26-30th September 2016.