Health visitors return to practice

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Healthcare meeting
Encouraging Health Visitors who have retired or left their career to return to practice can form part of a recruitment strategy and help you to build your workforce. 

Health visitors who have retired or taken a career break provide a rich resource of skills to tap into, which could contribute to the development of this important workforce. 

Employers have worked with education providers across the country to offer a range of Return to Practice (RTP) courses in different areas. Health visitors coming back to work can undertake part-time or full-time training, which will take between three and six months to complete. 

Health visitors who have kept their registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) can be offered an induction back to health visiting, to be delivered locally by their employer. Those who need to re-join the register, will need to complete an RTP course. Find out more about the NMC's requirements on its readmissions to the register webpage.

There are numerous incentives you can offer to returning health visitors.  A course that is paid for, and the option to work flexibly will be attractive to those who have taken a career break, or retired. Good quality placements in the community while they are learning, and then a preceptorship and ongoing support and mentoring from practice teachers will help your returning health visitors to adapt to any changes since they were practising, and build their confidence in their new role. 

Each local education and training board (LETB) should have an RTP coordinator who can advise and help returners on local courses and bursaries. Find out how to contact your LETB here.

There is also a wealth of information on the NHS Careers website for those considering this move, including stories from health visitors who have done so themselves, and answers to frequently asked questions. 

Shortly after the first phase of the HV implementation plan began in 2011, the Department of Health (DH) produced a report called Health visiting return to practice - recommendations. It was based on the findings of two initial pilot sites; NHS London and NHS East Midlands who provided return to practice courses with their local universities. Since then, many trusts have offered RTP to help the growth and development of their own workforce. 

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