Nurses and health visitors in Staffordshire could lose their jobs due to council budget cuts, Unite officials are warning
Staffordshire County council is moving ahead with £2.5 million of cuts to its children and young people’s health and wellbeing services, a decision made by the council three years ago.
According to Unite, the plan is for the number of health visitors to be reduced by seven whole time equivalents (WTE) from 42 to 35. Unite also estimates that each health visitor has responsibility for about 400 families, and if seven health visitor jobs were lost, up to 3,000 families could be adversely affected.
Services are being redesigned and a new Children and Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Programme, for children and young people aged between 0 to 19 years of age was launched in April across Staffordshire and combine health visiting and school nursing services into one, but with staff reductions.
Unite regional officer Frank Keogh said: “This financial ‘hit’ will further reduce the numbers of health visitors and school nurses and, therefore, leave the community vulnerable. This is at a time when families need support more than ever as the impact of the government’s austerity agenda continues to the detriment of children and the services provided to support them.
Alan White, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing told the Nursing TImes: “With less money to go around we do have to make every penny count and we will still be spending £9.4m on this new contract which will offer more targeted, additional support to the most vulnerable as well as making the best use of digital technology via advice hubs,”
“Our new Children and Young People Health and Wellbeing Programme brings these two services together under one roof so that we cut down on duplication and provide support that fits best with today’s modern families,” he said.
However, Frank Keogh points to mounting pressure from a history of funding issues.
“These cruel cuts are putting vital services, such as maternal and child mental health, child protection and domestic abuse, under even more severe strain. Recently implemented cuts have already hit hard in Staffordshire with the loss of children’s centres and support for breastfeeding.”
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