Services to families and children in Somerset will be hit if the Tory-controlled county council takes these activities back in-house and then imposes cuts to a vibrant service, Unite has warned.
Health visitors and school nurses fear that not only will services they provide to some of Somerset’s most vulnerable families be adversely affected by the planned cuts, but there will also be a steady salami-slicing of their pay, and terms and conditions.
The council wants to takeover these services currently provided by the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust from April 1 of next year.
Unite is organising a demo of community nurses and families to protest at the proposals when the council’s cabinet meets to discuss the plan at County Hall, Taunton TA1 4DY at 9am for a 9.30am start on Monday, February 12.
Unite, which represents the majority of the 200 health visitors and school nurses, wants the cabinet to throw out the proposals which, the union says, is more to do with cost cutting than enhancing service provision.
“Ironically, the reputation and rating for the service delivery by the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is better for the children’s services than those provided by Somerset county council,”said Unite lead officer for health in the south west Dorothy Fogg.
“We can only conclude that there is a hidden agenda of cost-cutting and salami slicing of our hard-working members’ terms and conditions, which does not bode well for the families and children of Somerset.
“Recruitment and retention for this new proposed service will be poor, if our members lose their NHS terms and conditions.
“Last summer, independent regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave Somerset Partnership an overall ‘good’ rating, yet at the end of January 2018 Ofsted reported that the county council children’s services ‘required improvement’.
“Therefore, serious questions have to be answered by the council as to its real motivation,” she added.
“The council claims that it wants an integrated service, but such a service has been provided by Somerset Partnership successfully for many years. Why risk wrecking a great service?”