Nursing shortage reported at west Suffolk health visiting and school nursing teams

There is a shortage of school nurses and health visitors in west Suffolk. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTO

There is a shortage of school nurses and health visitors in west Suffolk. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Public health teams in west Suffolk are struggling to recruit school and visiting nurses, Suffolk County Council has reported.

Visiting nurses are qualified nurses and midwives who have an additional degree or diploma who are based at schools, health centres, clinics and children’s centres, as well as visiting families in their own homes providing advice and assessments.

A Suffolk County Council report said that “vacancy rates remain high in the west of the county despite the continued recruitment programme,” with staff from neighbouring teams helping to support teams in west Suffolk.

For school nurses,the council’s report said that there were similar issues as to those around health visitors. It added: “Staff in neighbouring areas are working to support the teams with lower staffing levels.

“The team continue to work with a revised structure to deliver on their outcomes for the service.”

The job advert for health visitors says they “play a key role in ensuring the best possible start in life for every child in Suffolk”.

It has not been disclosed how many vacancies remain to be filled, but staff at Suffolk County Council said an action plan was in place, and more are due to start over the coming weeks.

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A county council spokeswoman said: “The problems being faced recruiting health visitors in Suffolk is in line with the national shortage of nurses.

“A recruitment and retention action plan is in place for Suffolk, which has helped secure several new staff members who will be starting over the next couple of months.

“Whilst we continue to be short staffed we have processes in place to redeploy staff and ensure that all children and families receive a suitable service.

“We will be monitoring our performance carefully to ensure that we continue to meet the required standards, and continue to support new mothers and fathers and their babies.”

The Royal College of Nursing last year called on the government to tackle the national nursing shortage by properly funding positions, and said that a lack of school nurses meant children were not adequately supported and teachers without training were having to fill the void.

A drop in applications for nurse courses and high workload are understood to be just some of the reasons behind the shortage.

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