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Work and Money
More health workers please!
Dekan Apajee and Karl Mercer
Unite the Union are calling on Waltham Forest PCT to increase the number of health visitors that are available to residents in the borough
'Another Victoria Climbie is on the cards,' that's the response from Unite, the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors Association, after it revealed a 40 per cent reduction in Health Visiting services in Waltham Forest.
Unite say that Health visitors play a vital role in any community and are often the first to identify cases of rickets, neurological conditions, poor diet, missed immunisations and postnatal depression.
Home visits are important
Unite also say that they have examples of the growing pressure on the reduced number of Health visitors in the borough with overcrowded child health clinics and the decline in the once universal eight month review, which since 2006, is now only available for children on the child protection register and those on the family support system for vulnerable families.
"The most vulnerable people the most depressed people where there may be something untoward happening are not the people who are going to come along and see us in clinic and unless we are doing a lot of home visiting we simply won't see those families," says local Health visitor Norma Dudley.
In 2000 the Waltham Forest Primary Health Care Trust funded 43.6 whole time equivalent health visitors, while in 2007 that number had reduced to 26.1. Unite is afraid that if the number of health workers isn't restored to the 2002 figure of 35 funded positions, it could end in a death.
Unite's Head of Health, Kevin Coyne says: "It is clear this is a PCT in crisis when it comes to providing community nursing services to its growing population. We call for immediate talks to reverse this appalling situation and the end of the lack of openness and transparency that has dogged this trust for a considerable time."
Waltham Forest PCT are keen to dismiss the claims that they're neglecting mothers and families, "There's some scaremongering around this. Not every parent has the need for that sort of level of health visiting, so what we do is target our services at the families and the children who are most vulnerable. But clearly lots of parents are very happy with the home support they've got from family and friends and just want to get on with enjoying their baby and bringing them up in their own way," says Chief Executive, Sally Gorham.
To watch a report on the issues surrounding Health visitors in Waltham Forest click on the link below:
We'd like to hear your comments on health visitors and how they've played a part in your family's development. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
last updated: 14/02/2008 at 16:51