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County council moves to reassure families if cuts made to health visitors

PUBLISHED: 05:30 18 June 2019

Critics say cutting health visitors could have a 'devastating impact' on young families at such an important time in their lives Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

Critics say cutting health visitors could have a 'devastating impact' on young families at such an important time in their lives Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

Archant

Community leaders have reassured families if health visitor numbers are cut services will still "provide the best care" for the children of Suffolk.

News that Suffolk County Council is considering reducing the number of health visitors has been met with fierce criticism - and claims that it will have a "devastating impact" on young families.

It has been reported that 31 of the 120 health visitors could go through redundancy and unfilled vacancies to save £1million, but the council has yet to confirm numbers.

The council is planning to put a new programme of child health care in place and says it is confident that this will work.

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The authority said: "The new service model will continue to offer the whole range of services and health reviews as required by the national Healthy Child Programme. The model is aligned with population demographics and configured to meet need - prioritising the most vulnerable while ensuring a universal service that can deliver the best outcomes.

"We are confident the Healthy Child Programme for children aged 0-19 years old will provide the best care for the children of Suffolk. The service will be modern, efficient and accessible as well as supporting the most vulnerable children and families.

"Public Health Suffolk commissions this service and works very closely with the provider through regular contract reviews and rigorous contract management to ensure that the requirements of the specification are consistently met to a high quality, and that children and families receive the best possible care and support.

"Plans include streamlining diary management to ensure all universal visit to 0-5 years are achieved; partnership working with other children and family services across the system, such as early help services, to ensure that families with additional support needs receive co-ordinated planned care; and specific pathways of care for vulnerable children and families, such as teenage mothers."

Kim Clements, Labour spokesperson for Women and Equalities at Suffolk County Council, said health visitors were invaluable to families.

She said: "These services are already stretched, so I am really concerned that these deep cuts will drive the situation to breaking point."

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