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Health visitors say their workloads have intensified in past year

A survey by the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association and the Unite union has also shown that 75% of health visitors are not able to give the mandatory five universal health reviews to families and young children.

Almost nine in ten health visitors (89%) feel their workload has intensified over the past year, a survey by the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) and the Unite union has found.

The survey of 751 health visitors in England also revealed that 75% are not able to give the mandatory five universal health reviews to families between the 28th week of pregnancy and when a child is two and a half years old.

Respondents said that the chance of a child death happening in their trust or board through abuse or neglect by guardians or carers was ‘somewhat likely’ (37%) or ‘very likely’ (10%). 

Unite professional officer Dave Munday said the figures reflect pressure on health visitors from population increases and cuts to Sure Start programmes and mental health services. 

These factors have offset the benefits of the government bringing in almost 4,200 extra health visitors to the NHS during the last parliament, he added.

Mr Munday said the problems are likely to get worse now that chancellor George Osborne is consulting on plans to cut £200 million from the public health budget.

He said: ‘The boost that was started during the last government term only ever corrected the previous large cuts to the service. 

‘It was a valuable exercise in helping health visitors catch up with the increasing demand for their services. 

‘Focus needs to remain on improving both the service and the numbers during and after the transfer of commissioning of public health to local authorities, which is set to occur on October 1. 

‘We want to avoid what appears to be a looming “robbing Peter to pay Paul” situation that sees the recent gains to the health visitor service being severely eroded by the other cuts to public health budgets planned by this government.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘This is pure speculation. 

‘Difficult decisions need to be made right across government to reduce the deficit and ensure the sustainability of our public services. 

‘We are currently consulting with local authorities on how best to deliver these savings in a way that minimises any impact on services.’

 

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