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SCHOOL NURSE SERVICE BEARS BRUNT OF COMMUNITY HEALTH CUTS - CLAIM

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Organisations representing some community health workers are protesting against what they say are deep cuts in serv...
Organisations representing some community health workers are protesting against what they say are deep cuts in services. The Community Practitioners Health Association and the Health Visitors Association says that many trusts and health authorities are making staff such as school nurses redundant because of a lack of cash.

In compiling this snapshot across the United Kingdom the associations found the school nursing service seems to be taking the brunt of the cuts, although other professions are being targeted. For example, they claim six school nursing posts are to go at the South Buckinghamshire Trust in High Wycombe while at the South Mede Trust in Bristol nine health visitors jobs are under threat.

Elsewhere, they say, there are cuts in speech therapy, chiropody, community dental work and family planning activities. In some areas staff who leave are not being replaced. Many cash-strapped authorities are questioning the value of this work, but the associations claim the cuts are damaging, go against the government's declared policy of boosting community health care and are possibly unlawful.

Community Practitioners Health Association professional officer Mary Daley said in an interview that in Milton Keynes it was planned to reduce the number of school nurses from 8.6 equivalent to 6.7. This despite the fact that Milton Keynes had the largest and fastest growing school population in the country and where it was planned to build a further ten schools. Already school nurses were looking after 4,117 children compared with a national average of 2,100.

She said purchasers saw primary health care as being the GPs and their staff. One London health trust was planning to increase practice managers by 30 but the same purchasing authority was cutting school nursing and health visiting, the front-line delivers of community health care.

Ms Daley said purchasing intentions were not based on the health needs of the community and there was no wide consultation about those intentions by the purchasers. Instead of the patient being at the centre of the primary care service it was now purchasers and GP fundholders who were central in the new system.

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