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Council votes to cut health visitor numbers despite union opposition

RCN criticises ‘short-sighted cuts’ in Stoke-on-Trent that it claims could axe eight jobs

RCN criticises ‘short-sighted cuts’ in Stoke-on-Trent that it claims could see eight jobs being axed

An attempt to prevent cuts to health visitor numbers in Stoke-on-Trent has been thwarted, despite nursing unions’ pleas for a rethink.

Labour councillors Shaun Pender and Andy Platt called on Stoke-on-Trent City Council to use a portion of last year’s underspend to retain health visitor jobs in Stoke-on-Trent , some of which are currently under threat. However, the majority of councillors at a meeting of the council on 8 July voted against the motion.

RCN criticises ‘short-sighted cuts’ in Stoke-on-Trent that it claims could see eight jobs being axed

Picture: iStock

An attempt to prevent cuts to health visitor numbers in Stoke-on-Trent has been thwarted, despite nursing unions’ pleas for a rethink.

Labour councillors Shaun Pender and Andy Platt called on Stoke-on-Trent City Council to use a portion of last year’s underspend to retain health visitor jobs in Stoke-on-Trent, some of which are currently under threat. However, the majority of councillors at a meeting of the council on 8 July voted against the motion.

As a result of a newly designed service model, the council plans to cut £1 million from the children and young people services’ budget this year. Nursing unions Unite and the RCN had previously called for the cuts to be scrapped, claiming it could lead to up to eight health visitor jobs out of 42 being axed, which would adversely affect up to 3,000 families.

Unite strongly criticises council for budget cut

Commenting on the council’s decision, Unite’s lead officer for health in the West Midlands Su Lowe said: ‘The idea that they have money to spare, but are choosing not to give it to a service that will have a direct impact on children’s lives and the adults they will become is absolutely shameful.’

RCN director for the West Midlands Lindsay Meeks said the outcome was disappointing: ‘Taking a precautionary approach and preserving the current levels of capacity and specialist expertise within school nursing and health visiting services is a sensible proposition, but it seems the council would rather plough on with short-sighted cuts.’

Data shows fall in health visitor numbers in England

Councils in England have seen a reduction of £700 million in real terms in public health funding between 2014-15 and 2020-21. These funding cuts have led to a reduction in health visitor numbers in England. According to NHS Digital data, there were 8,100 health visitors in September 2009 and this number had fallen to 6,595 by March 2021.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been contacted for comment.


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