WORKFORCE: The strategic health authority has increased the number of health visitor training posts it will need to meet the government’s recruitment drive from 603 to 715, after the Department of Health raised questions about its original plan.

“DH modelling suggested that numbers of leavers would be greater than the SHA estimates and that less newly trained HVs would work full time than SHA planning assumptions,” stated a report by NHS North West chief nurse Jane Cummings. “Although DH team has accepted that the modelling assumptions may not apply to all SHAs, following a review the SHA has revised its number of planned training commissions from 603 to 715.”

The SHA has also revised its plan to increase the numbers of health visitors that will be recruited in the early years of the recruitment drive. It originally planned a 10 per cent increase in posts this year, 25 per cent a year in 2012-13 and 2013-14, and 40 per cent in 2014-15.

But Ms Cummings report stated: “Clearly, this presented a risk if performance slipped, particularly in the final year with limited time to recover. The SHA has reviewed its trajectory; including benchmarking with the other SHAs in the cluster and the trajectory has been revised.”

It now plans 13.7 per cent growth this year, followed by 36.8 per cent, 31.6 per cent and then 17.9 per cent in the subsequent years.

The SHA also been hit by two “data issues” which are expected to show its original assessment of the “baseline” number of health visitors employed in the region was too high, increasing the number that will need to be recruited to meet the target. The first was caused by a DH clarification that “health professionals with a health visiting qualification but not currently practicing in this capacity will be excluded” while in other instances members of health visiting teams who are not qualified have been recorded as health visitors.

“The impact of this clarification, if this is approved as expected, is that the original baseline from May 2010 is likely to be lower than initially identified,” Ms Cummings reported.

She added that, as health visitors had been transferred between providers under the Transforming Community Services programme, new providers have been reviewing electronic staff records “to ensure that HV numbers have been appropriately recorded”.

The SHA would be “seeking assurances” from providers on when they would be completing this data cleansing exercise.

“With the action to review the timetable for completion of data cleansing and the mitigating actions in relation to other risks, the [Delivering the Commitment] Partnership Board remains confident in its strategies to address these risks,” she concluded.