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Building the English health visitor workforce as a result of the Health Visitor Implementation Plan 2011-2015: a survey study of career progression and retention for newly qualified health visitors

Brook, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-8867-0150, Thurtle, V. and Murray, J. (2019). Building the English health visitor workforce as a result of the Health Visitor Implementation Plan 2011-2015: a survey study of career progression and retention for newly qualified health visitors. Primary Health Care Research & Development, 20, e128.. doi: 10.1017/S1463423619000604

Abstract

Aim:
This study aimed to explore the extent to which health visitors who trained and qualified in both Greater London and the South West of England between September 2011 and January 2016 were employed in health visiting posts and have remained in the profession.

Background:
In 2011, the UK Government launched the Health Visitor Implementation Plan ‘A Call to Action’ (Department of Health, 2011) to develop the health visitor workforce by training 4200 health visitors over a four-year period. By April 2015, 4000 additional health visitors were trained, but the total workforce has since fallen back to pre-Implementation Plan size.

Methods:
Data were collected using a survey, completed online by participants. All participants had undertaken a health visitor education programme at one of two participating universities. The survey was distributed in January 2017 and completed by 180 individuals. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS; association was assessed using individual chi-square tests or Fisher’s exact test. Free-text responses were thematically analysed.

Findings:
Most (153; 87%) participants were still working as health visitors. Length of time spent working in the community prior to completing health visitor training was associated with staying in the role ( χ2 (with Fisher’s exact test = 7.998, P = .027). Current pay was associated with attrition from the health visitor workforce ( χ2 (with Fisher’s exact test) = 67.559, P < .001.). The majority who had left the health visitor role were on higher pay bands in their new post compared to those that had stayed (12; 60%). Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) theory of socio-ecological development was used as a framework to interpret the results. While participants made an active choice to join the profession, leaving was influenced more by factors outside their control. To influence health visitor retention, both local and strategic changes are required.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: health visitor; implementation plan; public health; retention; survey; workforce
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/22974
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