Parents in austerity-hit Cornwall were faced with the threat of having to pay for children’s services such as health visiting.
But at a crunch meeting in November, Cornwall Council decided to keep children’s services in-house, and not outsource them – a move Unite hailed as a significant victory.
The council’s cabinet voted to adopt an option to keep children’s services in-house from April 2019. The other option that councillors rejected was for a so-called ‘alternative delivery model’ by a company that is separate from the council.
But Unite warned that the possibility of parents paying for health visitors to carry out vital health checks on their babies and children still remains as the ‘means tested charging’ wording is still in its framework document.
Unite regional officer Deborah Hopkins called the council’s decision “a significant victory for the people of Cornwall and a big set-back for the insidious privatisation agenda.
But Hopkins added that until wording over means tested charging is finally jettisoned from the document, “Unite will be following developments in the weeks and months ahead very closely.”
“Unite is keen to work collaboratively and constructively with the management of children’s services to ensure the best possible outcomes for families and children in Cornwall, which is one of the poorest counties in England,” she said.
About 235 health visitors and school nurses are transferring into a Cornwall Council integrated children’s service in April 2019, to work with a multi-disciplinary team, alongside services for families and young people.