Funding blow puts future of health trainers under threat

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A restructuring effort has begun to try to retain a Lincolnshire-based health service which has suffered a funding blow.

Lincolnshire County Council has given three months notice that it is to cease funding the Lincolnshire health trainer service delivered by Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service (LCVS) in Boston, South Holland and South Kesteven.

David Fannin, LCVS chief executive, said: “Of course we are disappointed. The risk of developing diseases that are affected by lifestyle, and the benefits of healthy eating and exercise for people vulnerable to diabetes and dementia, are widely recognised.

“We have a core group of qualified health trainers who have made a big difference to a lot of people’s lives over the years. We are working on a new business model and are determined to make sure the knowledge, skills and experience of the health trainers is not lost in Lincolnshire.”

Health trainers help their clients to assess their lifestyles and wellbeing, set goals for improving their health, agree action plans, and provide practical support and information that will help people to change their behaviour.

In the last financial year 582 clients completed a personal health plan with LCVS health trainers working with a health trainer on a one-to-one basis for six to eight weeks to address their own specific hurdles to health.

Mr Fannin said: “We are now seeking to source funding for the service from elsewhere.”

Last year, Lincolnshire County Council funded the LCVS health trainer service with £240,000 from the public health budget.

LCVS employs ten people in health trainer roles, including one senior officer who works across all three districts and, in a mixture of full and part time roles – three in South Holland; four in Boston and two in South Kesteven.

All those staff have been told they are now at risk of redundancy. It is hoped alternative funding will be found to retain at least some of the positions.

No new clients are currently being taken on, but LCVS is maintaining a list of those who wish to access the service.

LCVS health trainers also deliver specific project work and projects already commissioned will be honoured.

They include a pre-diabetes education programme funded by South Lincs CCG, Boston Borough Council and Lincolnshire County Council; and a programme of courses to support people with dementia and their carers in South Holland and South Kesteven, details to be announced soon. Further project work is also under consideration.