Health visitor cuts 'put patients at risk'

A London PCT has put patients at risk by cutting its health visiting workforce by 40 per cent since 2000, union leaders say.

Unite/CPHVA says Waltham Forest PCT cannot ‘ensure safe practice as required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council's professional code of conduct' after cutting the number of whole-time equivalent health visitors it employs from 43.6 in 2000 to 26.1 in 2008.

Health visitors in the borough say cases of rickets, degenerative neurological conditions and immunisations have been missed because of the cuts, the union reports. 

The union has called for talks with the PCT's chief executive and is calling for an additional 10 health visitors to be employed.

Director of clinical and business support at the PCT Liz Delaney said: ‘There are no national standards for the numbers of health visitors.' 

She said an external review was being carried out to determine ‘appropriate staffing levels' as part of a local redesign of health visiting services.

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