County council budget cuts could lead to fewer school nurses in Scarborough

A radical shake-up of Scarborough’s school nurses could be in store in order to meet savage budget cuts.
Stock image. JPI MediaStock image. JPI Media
Stock image. JPI Media

North Yorkshire County Council is being forced to consider a rehaul of the Healthy Child Programme to meet a £4m - the equivalent of 15 per cent - reduction in public health spending.

The programme - provided by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust - runs services for Scarborough children including health visitors and school nurses.

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Proposals include reducing the average number of health visitor appointments for under fives but the biggest impact will be on services for school-aged kids.

Currently, The Healthy Child Team for five to 19-year-olds comprises specialist community public health nurses, healthy child practitioners, assistant practitioners, screening technicians and administrators.

According to its website, it has a named nurse linked to each GP practice.

In a report to a meeting of the Foundation Trust’s Board of Directors last month, the new proposals were described as “a model of care which is considerably different to the current service but which can be provided safely”.

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The report also said: “The changes are most significant to the school nursing service, in line with the priorities agreed with North Yorkshire County Council.

“The new model moves away from a universal service to a targeted service which, in addition will provide key services such as managing healthy weight and emotional resilience.”

The report said the proposals would mean a cut in staff - the equivalent of 37 full time posts.

Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s director of Health and Adult Services, said: “We will protect the Healthy Child Programme as much as possible and reductions to these services will be less than the overall cut to the Public Health Grant.

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“We will have a universal and targeted service for children and it will continue to be our biggest single area of spend in public health.”

The council’s Executive will consider the proposals later this Spring. Final plans will then be the subject of a 12-week public consultation.