Welsh Assembly Health Secretary, Jane Hutt is under pressure to explain why health visitor training places in Wales
next year have been cut by 20% - despite a recent £40 million cash injection into the NHS in Wales.
The Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA) said it is "inexplicable" that, while training places in England are rising, the number of places in Wales have been reduced from 38 to 30 for the academic year 2000-2001.
The CPHVA is calling for a boost in the number of training places and that money in the minister's announcement
should be earmarked to fund this increase.
In the letter to the minister, the CPHVA's Professional Officer for Wales, Ann Owen said: "I cannot think of any trust in Wales that have a full establishment of health visiting staff."
In many NHS trusts, the situation is at "breaking point" and existing staff are "under great stress". The workload has increased "immensely" with health visitors becoming involved in Sure Start initiatives - the Government scheme to help disadvantaged families.
"The situation will, no doubt, worsen with a high percentage of the workforce reaching retirement age in the near future and no new recruits to replace them," said Ann Owen. She is also concerned that recruitment is particularly difficult in trusts requiring bi-lingual staff.
"We desperately need a well-resourced and efficient health visiting service in Wales. Sadly, this is very much lacking at the moment and the situation, undoubtedly, will become worse in the very near future."
* At the University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, the number of places is down to 15 from 20 - although there are about 60 applicants. At Swansea, the numbers have been cut from 12 to nine.