NHS Lothian has admitted that Midlothian only has around half its required number of health visitors, after a whistle-blower revealed staff levels are “reaching crisis point”.
Midlothian currently has 8.56 whole time equivalent health visitors. The full complement should be 15.93.
A local NHS worker who didn’t want to be named told the Advertiser: “It’s reaching crisis point now.
“A midwife would usually discharge the mother and baby on day ten. But now in one area of Midlothian the midwives have been told to keep them on the books until the babies are 21 days old because there are no health visitors available.”
Eibhlin McHugh, joint director, Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership, said:“In line with a similar position across Scotland, we have identified that NHS Lothian has a number of vacant health visitor posts and this remains a challenge.
“Ensuring a safe and effective service for children and families through securing our health visitor service is a priority for NHS Lothian and we have put several measures in place which include an intensive training and recruitment programme as well as working closely with other services such as community midwifery to explore discharging some women from their midwife at 21 days, where this is clinically appropriate for the individual’s needs, in order to reduce pressure on our health visitors.
“Where there are shortfalls in the availability of health visitors, these are being covered by our staff bank and support from both East Lothian and Edinburgh’s health visiting teams.”
The health visitors referred to in the figures are ‘Band 6 health visitors’ and the number does not include health visiting staff nurses, nursery nurses and family support workers, who support the team.