Some “non-priority” health visiting services have been suspended as NHS Western Isles experiences ongoing difficulties in recruiting to vacancies.
Today the Health Board announced that specific health visiting services are currently being prioritised as it tries to recruit two full-time members of staff for the health visiting team.
In the meantime, non-priority services have been reduced or suspended temporarily until the vacancies are filled. The service is being reviewed on an ongoing basis.
For a temporary period, health visiting appointments will generally take place through clinics and home visits, and school input will be minimal until further notice.
Across the Western Isles, health visitors are prioritising issues of child protection, ‘looked after’ and accommodated children, vulnerable families, primary visits to newborn babies with additional visits up to eight-weeks for those mums who require it, and children with complex health needs.
Community staff nurses who support the health visiting team will continue to provide 16 week reviews of babies (also providing advice to mums), postnatal support visits and follow up support visits on a needs-assessed basis.
The infant drop-in service (M’ulaidh) in Stornoway will continue to be available. Parents and carers are encouraged to use the drop-in as the home visiting service will be prioritised, according to need. The drop-in is every Tuesday afternoon from 1-3pm, at Adventure Island Soft Play, Inaclete Road, Stornoway.
The services that will unfortunately be temporarily suspended will be:
- Routine weekly postnatal visits by a health visitor
- Antenatal core contacts – contacts to introduce the potential mum to the Health visiting services prior to delivery
- 27-month assessments of babies (in the Uists and Barra, 27 month checks will be carried out at clinics.)
- Pre-school assessments (in the Uists and Barra, pre-school checks will be carried out at clinics.)
- Child planning meetings, in cases where there is no complex health need.
NHS Western Isles Associate Chief Operating Officer, Colin Gilmour, said: “We are experiencing ongoing difficulties in recruiting to our health visiting vacancies and are making every effort to ensure that posts are filled as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have prioritised services to ensure that all essential services are maintained. We do regret that some services have been temporarily reduced or suspended, and would apologise to anyone that this affects. We would reassure our service users that these service reductions are temporary and we hope to have normal service provision in place as soon as posts are filled.”
Those who need to contact the service can do so directly through the central health visiting office at the health centre, in Stornoway (tel. 709842).
Enquiries within Uist and Barra will continue as normal to the health visiting bases:- Barra (01871 810 879), Uist (01878 700 846) and Balivanich clinic (01870 60 2266).
Parents and carers are advised to seek medical advice from their GP or from NHS 24 if they are concerned about their child.
Further update from NHS Western Isles:
Whilst NHS Western Isles has been experiencing challenges in relation to the recruitment of health visitors, we would like to reassure that all essential services will continue, and we are optimistic with regard to our latest advertisement, with interviews taking place at the end of March.
All essential services will remain in place. Across the Western Isles, health visitors are prioritising the important issues of child protection, high priority cases, ‘looked after’ and accommodated children, vulnerable families, primary visits to newborn babies with additional visits up to eight-weeks for those mums who require it, and children with complex health needs.
All new babies will continue to be seen and assessed by a health visitor and will be prioritised according to assessed need. This is negotiated with individual families as part of the routine visit.
Additional staff nurse capacity has been put in place to support the service at present. The skills of these staff include infant feeding support, practical advice and child health and development advice. Midwives remain the lead contacts for antenatal women, and midwives will continue to liaise with health visitors as required.
A small range of non-priority services have been affected, however, measures are in place to cover these, where possible:
- Routine weekly postnatal visits will be affected, but patents will be encouraged to attend the alternative M’ulaidh infant drop-in service. The drop-in is every Tuesday afternoon from 1-3pm, at Adventure Island Soft Play, Inaclete Road, Stornoway.
- There is currently limited capacity for non-urgent ‘core contact’ 13 and 27 month assessments, however decisions are being made and assessments prioritised, depending on assessed individual need. (In the Uists and Barra, 27 month checks will continue and will be carried out at clinics.)
- Pre-school assessments will be temporarily suspended, except in the Uists and Barra, where pre-school checks will be carried out at clinics.
- Child planning meetings, in cases where there is no complex health need, will be assessed according to need.
Health visitors will continue to be available for advice by telephone and via M’ulaidh drop-in clinics.
Anybody with concerns who feel they need support or advice is encouraged to contact their health visitor in the normal way.