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Health visitor cuts could push caseloads on to nurses with no specialist qualifications

Institute of Health Visiting said cuts at Suffolk County Council are reflected nationwide

Institute of Health Visiting said cuts at Suffolk County Council are reflected nationwide


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Nurses may have to carry out health visitor roles for which they are unqualified if the profession's specialist skills are under-valued.

The warning from the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) follows news that Suffolk County Council will cut its health visitor workforce. Documents seen by the Observer, reportedly reveal the authority intends to cut 31 full-time health visitor posts from a total of 120.

According to iHV, these changes will mean each health visitor will have a caseload of 750 children, triple the institute’s recommended ratio.

Staff nurses replacing specialist professionals

Additionally, the cut in health visitor numbers in the county means staff nurses who do not have the health visitor's specialist training will be expected to carry out mandatory visits, the institute added.

iHV research has found that 65% of families in England do not see a trained health visitor after their child is eight weeks old.

Institute’s Whitehall wish list

Institute of Health Visiting is urging the government to:

  • Protect health visiting budgets
  • Increase training budgets for student health visitors
  • Set benchmark requirements for health visiting services
  • Review resources alongside the review of the Healthy Child Programme

 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We have asked Public Health England to modernise the Healthy Child Programme to improve the support available, and will soon set out our green paper on prevention to help families stay healthy and well.’

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: ‘This is an opportunity for us to remodel and improve our provision for children and young people aged 0-19. We believe that this new model for providing healthy child services for the whole of Suffolk will have a positive impact on the lives of children and young people and their families.

The spokesperson added staff have been consulted on the proposals to deliver the service with available funding.


Related material

Institute of Health Visiting position statement


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