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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS - 19/9/08

Health visitor shortage "dangerous"

Friday September 19th, 2008

Hard pressed health visitors fear Britain could be heading for "another Victoria Climbie" case because of staff shortages, according to a survey published yesterday.

As many as one in five health visitors say they have 1,000 or more children on their books, according to the survey conducted by the health union Unite, which includes the former Health Visitors' Assocation.

This leads to a quarter of health visitors saying another major child abuse scandal, like the Climbie case, is likely.

The death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2000 at the hands of her great-aunt led to a major inquiry and a wholesale reorganisation of children's services.

But, according to Unite, health visitor jobs are disappearing rapidly - with nearly one post being lost every day.

Karen Reay, of Unite, said: "These findings are a terrible indictment, which demonstrate that the health visiting profession is on the ropes.

"Families and communities will suffer as a result, which is completely the reverse of what the government's family-friendly policies are intended to promote."

She said: "We are calling for ministers to instruct NHS trusts to implement a massive investment programme in health visiting so that government policies can come to fruition, and to restore the cuts in training budgets to guarantee the next generation of health visitors."

Tags: Child & Adolescent Health | UK News

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