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North London families hit by health visiting cuts

A 40% cut to the health visiting staff in an area of North East London will take its toll, say Unite/CPHVA.

The union believe that a crisis cannot be avoided for Waltham Forest if not enough health visitors are available to ensure safe practices, as required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council's professional code of conduct.

Health visitors in the borough have identified cases of rickets, degenerative neurological conditions, poor diet and postnatal depression that have not been pinpointed soon enough due to a lack of health visiting staff in the area.

The number of health visitors employed by Waltham Forest primary care trust (PCT) has dropped from some 43 in 2000 to 26 in 2008.

School nursing numbers have also been cut by a third in the last ear from 10 to 6, despite it being government policy that every secondary school and cluster of primary schools have a school nurse by 2010.

Unite Head of Health Kevin Coyne said: “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.”

Health visitors in the area say the cuts are purely a “number crunching exercise” with no qualitative analysis of the borough's current and future needs.