The health visitor education course should rise from the current inadequate 32 weeks-a- year to at least 48 weeks, says the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association.
‘There is considerable evidence that the minimum requirement of 32 weeks is insufficient to prepare practitioners with the necessary knowledge skills and attitudes that are required for practice and to ensure the proper protection of the public’, said the CPHVA.
The CPHVA said evidence suggested that first level registration programmes do not tackle health promotion, public health, and primary and community care in sufficient depth.
The CPHVA was responding to the new UKCC consultation document Requirements for programmes leading to registration as a health visitor.
The CPHVA has warmly welcomed the main thrust of the UKCC’s document as "an imaginative blueprint" for the annual intake of 1,000 health visitor students. This is because that the UKCC proposals move away from the narrow specialist medical model of health visiting to a broader public health role, based on the principles of health visiting, that reflects current policy.
However, the CPHVA would like to see the standards for practice educators made more explicit, and for a greater focus on health visitors’ role with individuals and families.
The CPHVA said that practice educators must not only be prepared to provide better education at an appropriate level, but to act as an educational lead within primary care trusts.
‘Given that 50% of the course is based in practice and there is uncertainty as to what is best practice in the emerging new primary care organisations, the Council is strongly urged to make standards for practice education in all community specialists explicit.’
The CPHVA said that, while recognising the health visitor’s role in the wider community, it was important not to lose the expertise of the health visiting service with individuals and families.
‘This is important for two reasons. The development of healthy children and families is the cornerstone of public health. Secondly, health visitors are increasingly leading teams who deliver child and family focused health promotion services and need to have knowledge and expertise with which to be credible leaders.’
The CPHVA’s Professional Officer for Education, Sarah Forester said: ‘While the UKCC document promises a positive future for health visiting education, which the CPHVA strongly endorses, we have made a number of recommendations that we feel could further enhance the UKCC’s proposals.’
The document will be discussed at the UKCC committee’s meeting in March 2002.