Protest in York tomorrow over proposed axe to health visitors and school nurses

Posted On: 
29th March 2017

Families with babies and young children in York will bear the brunt of proposed cuts to health visitors and school nurses by the city council, Unite, the country’s largest union, warned today (Wednesday 29 March).

To alert the 200,000 people covered by the City of York Council as to the extent of the cuts, Unite is staging a demonstration at St Helen’s Square, near the Mansion House/Guildhall entrance tomorrow (Thursday 30 March) between 17.00-19.00.

The health visitor and school nurse workforce was transferred from the NHS to the council in August 2015 – and now the city council wants to reduce the number of community nurses by about 16 per cent.

The unions, supported by York Central MP Rachael Maskell, are in talks with the city council until Thursday 30 April about the proposed cuts.

Unite regional officer Mark Fieldhouse said: “Unite has said that local government is the ‘forgotten cousin’ when it comes to funding from Whitehall – but we don’t see why the public health agenda underpinned by health visitors and school nurses should be sacrificed on the altar of  cuts imposed by a Tory government.

“One of the problems is that the city council seems unsure of the true extent of its community nurse workforce. We understand that up to 10 full-time equivalent jobs could be at risk, but we are pressing the council hard as to exactly what its plans are and the numbers of jobs under threat.

“Nationally, since 2010, local government has faced the brunt of the cuts to public spending with 37 per cent cut from the local government budget between 2010 and 2015, with a further 56 per cent due to be axed by 2019/20.

“What families with young children are facing is no role for school nurses, removing the link between health and education. Health promotion focussing on sex education, and smoking and drug abuse will be much diminished.

“The infant feeding co-ordinator role is disappearing, leaving no support for mothers struggling with breastfeeding.

“To top it all, the already hard-pressed community nurses face having their pay and employment conditions much reduced by moves to put them on City of York Council salary scales, when we believe that staff should remain on NHS terms and conditions.

“If the people of York believe in a vibrant and progressive ‘healthy child service, we urge them to pledge their support by coming to tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) demo and make their collective voice heard, so we can make the case to councillors.”