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Suffolk residents urged to contact MPs over health visitor proposals

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People living in Suffolk have been urged to write to their MPs to help put a stop to proposed cuts against the health visiting workforce in the area.

The call comes from trade union, Unite, after it met with Suffolk County Council last week.

“We are urging Suffolk residents to write to the county’s seven MPs”

Mark Jaina

During a meeting over the council plans to slash health visiting posts in the area by 25% by September this year, Unite said it did not receive “satisfactory reassurances”.

The union has, therefore, urged Suffolk residents to get involved by writing to the county’s seven MPs, including health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, in a bid to halt the plans.

As reported last week, leaked documents seen by the Observer newspaper, exposed council proposals to slash the 120-strong health visiting workforce by 31 full-time posts.

It was also reported that the council wants to dilute the role of health visitors, so they no longer carry out three of the five checks of mother-and-baby health.

Under the plans, health visitors would focus on the most vulnerable families and nurses would instead undertake the three checks, the newspaper stated.

According to the documents, the proposed cuts will save the council £1m from its health visiting, school nursing and family nurse partnership services.

In the wake of this, Unite met with Suffolk council bosses to discuss the cuts which the union warns will lead to a “fragmented” health visiting service. Unite highlighted that a group of health visitors also attended the meeting.

The union said it feared that those remaining in post after the cuts will look for jobs in Cambridge, Essex and Norfolk, where pay and employment conditions are significantly better.

Unite regional officer, Mark Jaina, said: “We told the council that it was a short sighted and cavalier approach to a critical service for all Suffolk families and we demanded a formal written response to our document outlining our concerns.

“We think it is grave mistake to reorganise the 0-to-19 children’s services in this reckless manner as it provides invaluable support to Suffolk families, many of them in vulnerable circumstances,” he said.

“We did not get satisfactory reassurances from the county council yesterday, so we are urging Suffolk residents to write to the county’s seven MPs, including the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock who has the power to actually do something about the health visitor crisis, not just in Suffolk, but across England,” said Mr Jaina.

“We believe that members of the public should join us in resisting this cost cutting exercise – these plans should be ditched,” he added.

In response, assistant director for Nursing and Early Help at Suffolk County Council, Anita Farrant, said: “I had a productive meeting with members from Unite.”

“I am grateful for their feedback and will use it, along with others we have consulted with, to inform our decision,” she added.

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