A NUMBER of health visitors have taken voluntary redundancy as a result of cuts to the service in Worcestershire.

Nine health visitors volunteered for the 'supported resignation scheme', a spokesman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said.

The employees stepped down as part of a 'service transformation' initiative, which has integrated a range of public health nursing roles into one team.

The new Starting Well service has unified health visitors, school health nurses and breastfeeding support personnel into one group.

It was designed last year by the health and care trust and Worcestershire County Council, which purchases the services from the trust.

A spokesman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: "We have developed a more resilient service which provides more joined up care for children, young people and families."

The Starting Well service includes a new team which provides support to young people with emotional difficulties and a health visitor advice line for parents.

The government cut the ring-fenced public health grant to local authorities in 2015, forcing the county council to reduce its spending on relevant services by £1.9 million.

Health visitors are qualified and registered nurses – or midwives with extra training – who assess the health needs of individuals, families and the wider community.

There are currently just over 100 health visitors in Worcestershire.