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Care services 'in meltdown' in Birmingham

CARE services in Birmingham are “in meltdown,” the union Unite warned yesterday following a damning review by care watchdog CQC.

Its review revealed that health visitors were shouldering double the maximum number of families they each care for — 500 instead of 250 recommended for safe and effective practice.

Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust, where Unite has 600 members, has been told by the CQC to make “significant improvements” in the quality of healthcare by March 2019.

Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, said that, since the warning was delivered to the trust’s chief executive Richard Kirby last month, “a veil of secrecy” has descended over what action management plans to take.

The union called for urgent talks with trust management, warning that the lack of resources puts vulnerable people at risk.

Unite regional officer Su Lowe highlighted the fact that health visitors were leaving and not being replaced.

She said: “We are into unsafe practice territory where serious issues, such as postnatal depression and domestic abuse, could be missed because of the current lack of resources.

“Staff morale is at breaking point. The trust has failed to follow the clear guidelines on caseloads and there appears to be a complete lack of governance.”

Unite said that there had been a 20 per cent drop in health visitor numbers across England since 2015 and that Tory cuts were worsening the problem.

Birmingham Community Healthcare (BCHC) acting director of nursing Linda Lockwood said: "We recognise our health visiting teams are facing big pressures, agree with the CQC findings and fully accept the recommendations of the warning notice.

She said it had already taken actions “to better support colleagues” and would welcome the opportunity to meet with Unite to further outline the actions we are taking to support colleagues."

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