Thousands of families could be ‘badly affected’ by Thousands of Suffolk families could be badly affected by a county council proposal to axe the health visiting workforce by 25 per cent, Unite said today (June 19).
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), branded the plan as ‘highly damaging and counter-productive for Suffolk families with young children’ and called for the proposal to be ditched.
Unite, which has a 100,000 members in the health service, said that the county council’s consultation to reorganise the 0-to-19 children’s services from September came as the latest figures from NHS Digital reveal the lowest number of health visitors in England since September 2012.
Unite said that the proposal envisaged a reduction in the head count of about 30 from the 120-strong health visitor workforce and feared that those remaining will look for posts in Cambridge, Essex and Norfolk where pay and employment conditions are significantly better.
The union is due to meet with county council bosses tomorrow (June 20) to urge them to reconsider their plans.
“We think that these proposals are motivated by reckless cost-cutting and, if they were to go-ahead, it would badly affect thousands of Suffolk families, many of them in vulnerable circumstances,” believes Unite regional officer Mark Jaina.
“The proposals aim to reduce the number of health visitors by a swingeing 25 per cent; replacing some of those roles with staff nurse positions; and the centralisation of many admin and clerical jobs in Ipswich.
“The county council appears to want to sneak these plans under the radar without fully consulting all staff side organisations, especially Unite – we were only informed by our members,” he added.
“Council bosses also propose to replace a significant number of health visitor roles with lower graded staff nurses – and they will require external recruitment to fill these roles,” continued Jaina.
“There is already a chronic shortage of nursing staff, an estimated 40,000, across the country, so we are very concerned that the council will not be able to fill many of the roles it will need to advertise for.
“In addition, the council is proposing to scrap the specialist mentor role which provides invaluable advice and support to students and recently qualified health visitors.
“We have consulted with many of our members from Bury St Edmunds to Beccles and have prepared a fully detailed response to the proposals for tomorrow’s meeting when we will urge the management to ditch their flawed and misguided plans.
“We do not accept that the cuts should come from an outstanding service to 0-5 year olds and their parents and guardians.
Jaina concluded, “It would have serious implications for the welfare of 0-5 year olds throughout Suffolk – and the public needs to be fully acquainted with the adverse implications of what the future holds.”