Plans to cut up to 60 health visitor jobs in Nottinghamshire have “receded”, according to a union that intervened in the dispute.
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has pulled back from some of its proposals that could have seen 38 whole-time equivalent posts axed from a workforce of about 138.
“The threat to the 0-19 year-old service which employs the health visitors appears to have receded”
The trust has confirmed the number of posts that were at risk has reduced – down to 19 staff members now being affected – due to retirements or resignations, and that the remaining workers will now be offered alternative positions within the service.
Unite, which includes the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, warned in November that the original plans to cut 60 jobs would hit deprived families in the region. The union said today it would be “monitoring the situation very closely in the weeks and months ahead”.
The cuts were first put forward when Nottinghamshire County Council, which commissions public health services in the area, agreed last year that an integrated 0-19 service should be introduced from April 2017.
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The new service model will bring together under one contract the current health visiting and school nursing services, family nurse partnership, national child measurement programme and breast feeding support services.
The council awarded the three-year contract to Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, but with a smaller budget that at present, which was also set to shrink further in years to come – falling from around £15.3m in 2016-17 to £13m by 2019-20.
As a result, the trust said it “had to make significant changes to the way services are delivered”, with 20 new locally-based “healthy families teams” formed and a reduction of 38 WTE posts – which equated to 60 jobs due to many staff working part time.
“We are able to offer those placed at risk alternative employment within the new ‘healthy families teams’, in new posts or covering for vacancies”
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS FT
But following discussions between union officials and the trust, Unite has said it now believes the threat of the job cuts has “receded”.
Unite lead officer for health in the East Midlands Garry Guye said: “Unite took this threat to our members’ jobs and the deprived communities they serve in Nottinghamshire very seriously.
“However, following a meeting just before Christmas with the trust, the threat to the 0-19 year-old service which employs the health visitors appears to have receded.”
Mr Guye said the trust had also agreed to monitor and review the new service model from April, to identify any problems with the way it was working.
A statement provided by Nottinghamshire Healthcare to Nursing Times said: “The workforce changes have largely been achieved through natural turnover of staff and recruitment to new posts.
“Following some resignations and retirements since the initial modelling, the number of staff placed ‘at risk’ following the selection process has reduced from an anticipated 38 ‘full time equivalent’ health visiting posts to just 19 staff members,” it said.
Union attacks axing of ‘up to 60’ Nottingham health visitors
“As a result of close working with these staff and rigorous financial and workforce planning, we are able to offer those placed at risk alternative employment within the new ‘healthy families teams’, in new posts or covering for vacancies,” said the trust.
“Some of these posts are temporary and we will continue to work with these staff to ensure that permanent posts are secured when these become available,” it added.
“We are confident that the increased use of skill mix in the new ‘healthy families teams’ will allow parents and young people to receive better care overall, as teams will now have a wider range of skills spanning the whole 0-19 years age range,” said the statement.