Mothers and babies missing out due to health visitor shortage (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Mothers and babies missing out due to health visitor shortage in Waltham Forest
New mothers and their babies are missing out due to a chronic shortage of health visitors in Waltham Forest.
According to guidelines set by health authority NHS London in 2011, the borough should have 101 health visitors, but the current figure is just 31.
Health visitors check on new mothers and their babies in their homes, making sure the baby is healthy and developing as it should be.
But between 2012 and 2013 only 63 per cent of initial visits took place in the first two weeks after birth, and only 59 per cent of mothers received a visit when their baby was one year old - another requirement of the service.
At a meeting of the council's Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, a spokesman for NHS London said: “The number of health visitors in Waltham Forest is not sufficient to meet the needs of the children and families in the borough."
A programme to address a national shortfall in health visitors, known as Call to Action, is funding the recruitment of an additional 19 health visitors this year in Waltham Forest.
Joseph Lindo, Associate Director of Universal Services Children at the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), which provides health visiting services in the borough, said: “We are actively recruiting into posts currently.
“We do our very best to provide for the families in Waltham Forest.”
A spokesman for NELFT added: “NELFT is pro-actively recruiting health visiting staff in Waltham Forest through its 'open up possibilities' recruitment campaign to meet the additional need.
"Ten health visitors have already been appointed in Waltham Forest through the 'call to action' programme, and further recruitment is taking place."
NELFT plans to recruit a further 26 health visitors next year.
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