Fewer nurses and health visitors will be available at Southwark’s schools and for vulnerable families due to cuts from the government, the council has claimed.
The cuts will come in two strokes, with Southwark Council’s allocation for these services from the public health grant falling from £1.472m to £1.354m, and local health commissioners losing £533,232 from its budget.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, July 6, where health professionals explained plans to reduce the total number of school nurses and visitors to local councillors, which, they were told, will leave nurses with less time to see vulnerable children in their case loads. A report published ahead of the meeting said: “A reduced number of health visitors who have an increased number of children on their case loads,” and that case loads of school nurses will need to be “reconfigured”.
School nurses will also be left with less time to see vulnerable children or to hold confidential drop-in sessions, where children can discuss issues such as sexual health and bullying. The report says each nurse will been assigned six schools to visit each week.
Richard Frack, the council’s director of commissioning children’s and adults services , said: “We have 77 whole-time health visitors servicing Southwark. Guy’s Hospital say 20 of those posts will need to be reduced. We have 25 school nurses and we will need to reduce between five and eight. But because we currently have that number of positions that need filling, we will not need to make any redundancies.
“I am confident we will still be able to meet the needs of children and families already known to us. The risk is more around early identification of sexual health and other problems.”
This new round of cuts to the council’s budget for health services follows an even bigger cut last year of nearly £1.2m, after Mr Frack told the committee it had been increased in 2014. The public health grant for the financial year 2016-17 will be £22.5m. The reforms will take effect in Southwark as of this month. The committee also heard that services in Lambeth have similarly been cut, as of May 12 this year.