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Increase in health visitor workloads despite Implementation Plan

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Public health budget cuts could impact health visi Public health budget cuts could impact health visitors

    Health visitors reported that their workloads have heavily increased over the past year, according to a survey of 751 health visitors.

    In a Unite survey, 89% of health visitors said that their workloads had increased over the last year, as cuts to other children's services meant there was more work for them to do. A further 50% said that the chances of a child under the care of their Trust or board dying was 'somewhat likely', while 37% said it was 'likely' and 10% considered it 'very likely'.

    Unite professional officer Dave Munday said: 'Despite the boost to health visitor numbers due to the implementation plan, health visitors are not reporting the benefits on the frontline. This is due to the increasing number of children/families as the population rises and cuts to associated services, such as Surestart and children's mental health services.'

    Unite and the Institute of Health Visiting have warned that the £200 million cut to public health budgets could reverse the progress made by the Health Visitor Implementation Plan, which expanded the health visitor workforce by 4200.

    Cheryll Adams, chief executive of the Institute of Health Visiting, said: 'We hope rational decisions will be made. In public health terms, the decision is problematic. It will end up costing the NHS more money in the long term.'

    Mr Munday added: 'The government needs to reverse this decision as it will impact negatively both on health visiting services as they are not 'protected' from the cuts in themselves and the associated services that support families. 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 other cuts to public health budgets planned by this government.'

    What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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    As a student health visitor about to qualify, I have recently observed an increase of workload rather than the relief that was hoped we would gain from training 4200 more health visitors from the Implementation Plan (DH, 2011). I feel this is due to a number of factors. Newly qualified HV's are often placed where there is the most need within the county in which they apply for employment. This may be quite a distance from home resulting in a long commute to their workplace, this also has negative financial implications adding more pressure to the individual. The HV's then move jobs closer to home as soon as they are able, and often the vacancies created are not filled. I feel that, with preventative service facing cuts, vacancies will remain unfilled.
    The governments intention to cut local authority health budgets, will have a detrimental effect on the health of our nation, this contradicts the intention of the Implementation Plan.
    The future mental health of adults will continue to deteriorate if services are cut. It will become more difficult for patients to access mental health services as thresholds will tighten. The patients will need to be managed by HV's and school nurses who are not experts in mental health treatments. This will have a negative effect on the already stretched health visiting and school nursing services, it is the opposite principle of the currently practised early intervention strategy.
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