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Union warns of 'disaster'

PUBLISHED: 17:01 17 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:33 11 August 2010

A UNION has warned that NHS Barking and Dagenham is heading towards disaster with the number of health visitors in the borough dangerously low, but the claims have been vigorously denied by health officials. As one of the largest unions in the country, U

A UNION has warned that NHS Barking and Dagenham is heading towards disaster with the number of health visitors in the borough dangerously low, but the claims have been vigorously denied by health officials.

As one of the largest unions in the country, Unite has written to NHS Barking and Dagenham outline their concerns about their 'depleted workforce.'

They say that 45 percent of health visitor jobs in the borough have not been filled and that a dangerously understaffed team are taking on too many cases.

Unite Professional Officer, Dave Munday said: "From my experience across England, this is the worst example of a crisis in the health visiting service.

"Individual health visitor caseloads range between 344 and 3,989 children. One clinic, staffed by two health visitors (one of them part- time), has 2,320 children on its books and 60 children with child protection plans."

Mark Shepperd, Director of Provider Services and Nursing, said: "NHS Barking and Dagenham refutes the allegation by Unite that children in the borough are being put at risk by a shortage in health visitors.

"Over the past year we have more than doubled the number of staff in the child protection team and have employed nine school health advisors.

"We recognise there is a shortfall in health visitors and are advertising the vacant posts. In the meantime we have taken a number of steps to cover the workload. Part time staff have been offered the opportunity of working full time and more agency staff will be taken on.


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