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Concerns about health visiting cuts

The cuts to the health visiting service in West Kent, announced today, could have "a major impact" on the welfare of families, says the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA), the professional body representing the UK's health visitors.

The CPHVA has made a statement deploring today's decision by West Kent Primary Care Trust (PCT) to axe 10 out of its 57 health visiting posts. It warns that ss many of the health visitors are part-time, this could mean the loss of  some 15 health visitors. Originally, 15 whole-time equivalent jobs were set to go. 

The areas affected include Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, Lenham, Edenbridge, Hawkhurst, Paddock Wood, and Cranbrook.

However, while getting rid of the health visitor posts, the PCT is promising families what it describes as "universal access" to their health visiting team, with families able to "contact their health visiting team in a variety of ways, without referral, at any time during the working week".

Amicus Health Lead Professional Officer, Obi Amadi said: "'Universal access' will mean that there will be fewer places and times when families will be able to see a health visitor, which is not the same as 'universal delivery', where a mother has a visit after 10 days from a health visitor, and there is an assessment by the health visitor as to the level of support required in the future.

"The [health visiting] service should be client-led - what the family requires, not what PCT managers want for their financial 'bottom line', ie, 'universal access'. It could have a major impact on the welfare of families."

The union is concerned at what these cuts will actually mean on a daily basis for the families of West Kent. "The onus for the success of this new so-called 'universal access' service will fall very much on the PCT's Directors of Public Health, and Nursing," commened Ms Amadi.

Sarah Carpenter, the Amicus Health Coordinator for the South East said: "The public support for this campaign has been magnificent - from the public, local councillors, MPs and the media. Today's decision is disappointing, but we will continue to campaign to reverse these cuts, so that the government's public health agenda can be fully implemented."

More than 2,000 West Kent residents signed a petition to save the health visiting service from swingeing cuts by the PCT.

To see the full report from the West Kent PCT, go to