Concern raised over health worker burnout in Warwickshire

Whitnash councillor Judy Falp flagged up her fears during this week’s meeting of Warwickshire County Council’s health and wellbeing board
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Burnout among Warwickshire’s health visitors is a real concern according to one county councillor after hearing that too few people were entering the industry.

Cllr Judy Falp (Ind, Whitnash) flagged up her fears during this week’s meeting of Warwickshire County Council’s health and wellbeing board.

Councillors heard that the number of health visitors nationally had dropped by nearly 3,700 over the past six years and that staff across the county were handling caseloads far in excess of guidelines.

Sarah Foster, from South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, explained the impact that the national staffing crisis was having locally.

She said: “In Warwickshire we should have around 85 health visitors and we actually only have 68 in post.

"We cannot recruit because of the national shortage.

“Our caseloads are at the highest at the end of August before we send some children off to school.

"The recommended caseload for full-time health visitors is 250 but currently, in Rugby, where we have had a significant shortage, the caseload is currently around 1,600.

"All of the other teams are more than 400 so to get us down to 250 we would need 120 full-time equivalent health visitors.

“There’s also been an increase in the number of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Warwickshire and they have their own identified set of needs.”

Recruitment is a major issue.

Seven student health visitors had been appointed but three posts remained vacant because there were not enough applicants

Cllr Falp said: “This isn’t sustainable.

“Early intervention is virtually a no-no because you can’t do it at the moment.

"With workloads like that you will have burnout from your health visitors.”

A report considered by councillors explained that a plan had been rolled out last autumn but staff were still leaving the NHS and university courses were not viable due to the lack of interest.

Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Lib Dem, Eastlands) said: “I was recently in the family centre in Rugby and I know it has been disastrous for months.

“I don’t know how they have been dealing with the casework they have.

"I understand about the national staffing issue but I do have great concerns about Rugby’s position at the moment.”