UK children facing winter ‘from which some will never recover’

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health issues stark warning as UCL survey reveals impact on families of health visitor staff redeployment for COVID-19 in England.

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UK children are facing a winter from which some will never fully recover, as under resourced services struggle to cope with a deluge of missed appointments, review, surgery and vaccinations, which under resourced services are struggling to cope with, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has warned.

The stark warning comes as UCL research* reveals the impact of health visitor redeployment in England during the pandemic on vulnerable families

A survey of 663 health visitors in England, carried out between 19 June and 21 July, found that 41% of respondents in teams that lost staff had between six and 50 colleagues redeployed between 19 March to 3 June 2020.

In around one in 10 such teams, this was a redeployment of at least half of their staff. Few teams (9% among those with staff redeployed) gained additional staff to fill the gaps.

This resulted in an increase in caseload for 253 respondents (38%), with some experiencing an increase of 50% or more. And nearly three out of four (73%) of those whose workload had increased, said that their caseload hadn’t returned to its usual size.

Many health visitors are concerned about the knock-on effects among children and families, particularly those that are vulnerable, with most (96%) of respondents concerned about children in homes at risk of domestic violence and abuse.

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