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27 July 2000

EMBARGOED UNTIL 1500, THURSDAY, 27 JULY

COMMUNITY PRACTITIONERS AND HEALTH VISITORS MUST NOT BE THE NHS NATIONAL PLAN'S 'INVISIBLE ARMY', SAYS CPHVA

Health visitors and community nurses should not become "the invisible army" when the NHS Modernisation Plan takes effect, the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association said today (Thursday, 27 July).

But the CPHVA's Director, Jackie Carnell said: "If the shift to a consumer-led rather than a producer-led culture is developed, this should ensure that the valuable services to families and communities provided by our members is not allowed to be forgotten."

While broadly welcoming the Government's NHS blueprint, the CPHVA is concerned that the Plan's emphasis is heavily skewed to the acute sector as opposed to providing services to local communities.

Ms Carnell said: "We welcome the commitment of new resources to the NHS and the promise of 20,000 extra nurses, but I hope that community health services will not be forgotten when the recruitment campaigns for the new staff are instituted."

The CPHVA is also keen that the new primary care modernisation agency will recognise that primary care is not solely focused on the role of GPs.

Ms Carnell said: "We need to make sure that that the breadth and scope of services that families need within a community setting are not sacrificed on the altar of reducing the workloads of GPs. The general thrust of the Plan is good news, but the fear is that, like so often in the past, community practitioners and health visitors are seen as an invisible workforce."

The CPHVA welcomed the setting of some inequality targets and supported the need for increased resources for areas of deprivation. "But", said Ms Carnell. "This must be genuine, additional money and not a reallocation of existing funds."

The CPHVA's Professional Officer for School Nurses, Pat Jackson welcomed the proposal that school children, aged four-to-six, should receive free fruit. "This is excellent news and is another important step in ensuring that school children receive a balanced diet."

"We want to erode the 'burger-and-chips for every meal' culture and don't want this initiative counter-balanced by school tuck shops, selling high fat, high sugar alternatives, such as chocolates."

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NOTE TO NEWS EDITORS

For further information, please contact:

Jackie Carnell 0468 737773
Pat Jackson 0498 531027
Shaun Noble Press Officer (020) 7939 7043 mobile 0468 69 39 40

CPHVA press releases can be seen on the CPHVA web site: www.msfcphva.org

The CPHVA is an autonomous professional section of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union. The CPHVA represents 18,000 health visitors, school nurses, practice nurses and registered nurses working in the community in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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