Validate your membership/access to the iHV Champion hub here to receive your password.
Not a member? Join here.

New report launched: student SCPHN recruitment pathway development review

19th May 2023

iHV and NHS England Workforce Training and Education Directorate (NHSE WTED) launch new student SCPHN recruitment pathway development review report.

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) was delighted to be awarded funding by NHS England Workforce Training and Education Directorate (NHSE WTED) to complete a pathway development review of student Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (SCPHN) recruitment in London. The timing of this project is critical because the SCPHN health visiting and school nursing workforce is under enormous pressure due to significant national workforce shortages.

Workforce capacity issues have been further exacerbated by rising levels of need in the wake of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. London is one of the hardest hit areas and services are struggling to fill significant gaps in SCPHN substantive posts. Across London, services have also reported that they are struggling to recruit to student SCPHN places which is exacerbating the problem.

There have been many hypotheses on the key drivers behind the challenges of SCPHN recruitment. This pathway development review has provided greater understanding of the key enablers and barriers to student SCPHN recruitment in London. Our recommendations are based on the experiences of student SCPHNs, Higher Educational Institute (HEI) and provider leads, and their suggestions for changes that are needed to improve student SCPHN recruitment in London.

Experiences were shared through focus groups, 1:1 interviews and surveys. The review drew on implementation science, using Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) to investigate the processes by which new ways of working are embedded in practice and become normalised and ‘taken for granted’.

Our findings have been presented in a report and summarised into three bright and engaging infographics. Whilst this review has provided information on the unique context of student SCPHN recruitment in London, it is also hoped that the findings will provide transferable learning to SCPHN providers and HEIs across the UK who may be experiencing similar issues.

Georgina Mayes – iHV Policy and Quality Lead, said:

“I was delighted to lead on this very important project which has the experiences of student SCPHNs, HEI and provider leads at its heart. SCPHN workforce shortages are of national concern and this project showcases ways in which we can influence and improve SCPHN workforce capacity at local level. I’m excited to see how our recommendations will be translated into reality and inform the development of a pan-London student SCPHN recruitment pathway”.

Nicky Brown – Senior Nurse, OHID London Region, said:

“I am thrilled to see this report highlighting the pathway that a nurse or midwife can take to train as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse in London. This report encourages nurses to engage with public health initiatives and raise awareness of the diversity of the health visitor and school nurse role.”

Jenny Gilmour – Lead for NHSE WT&E (London) funded SCPHN Project for improving Education Infrastructure and SCPHN Student uptake, said:

“We are delighted to have requested and funded this work aligned to the SCPHN Workforce development in London. We welcome the report giving us insight into current experience and aligning anecdotal information with evidence about being a SCPHN Student in 2023. We plan to use the recommendations going forward to help shape delivery, improve recruitment and retention for the SCPHN Workforce, and working with HEI and Provider Leads across London. We love the infographics giving a colourful, quick overview and the report is a good read! Thanks to colleagues at the iHV who worked hard to undertake the review and produce the report”.

Nafisa Insan – iHV Research Associate, said:

“It was great listening to the experiences and views of student SCPHNs, HEI and provider leads, and we were able to gather some very important findings. I hope this work can promote positive changes in the Pan-London student SCPHN recruitment pathway and create an enriched SCHPN workforce”.

Sharon White – SAPHNA CEO, said:

“SAPHNA is delighted to be supporting other aspects of this critical Pan-London work. It is heartening that it has been recognised that something needs to change if, like most other national areas, we are to attract, recruit, retain and develop the SCPHN workforce. This work, therefore, is welcomed and provides a springboard for further action. We look forward to supporting the ensuing plan.”

We would like to thank NHSE WTED for their generous funding of this project. We would also like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to all the SCPHN practitioners, provider leads, and HEI leads in London who took the time out of their busy working days to participate in our surveys, focus groups and 1:1 interviews. Your contributions and expertise have been invaluable for this project.

To cite this report , please use the link to the pdf here:



Join the conversation