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NHS Health Visitors to provide new infant feeding services model

Discussion in 'News Feed' started by Kent County Council, Mar 12, 2018. Replies: 0 | Views: 4279

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    A new model for infant feeding support services in Kent has been given the go-ahead which will see NHS Health Visitors taking responsibility for the provision of services, working closely with maternity services, and ensuring that there is a greater flexibility and availability of professional, peer and specialist support.

    The contract with interim providers PS Breastfeeding CIC has come to an end and a multi-million-pound investment into Kent’s NHS Health Visiting service means it is now able to provide all elements of the Healthy Child Programme. It is now achieving 96% of new birth visits (seeing 17,298 women and their babies).

    KCC’s Health Reform and Public Health Committee agreed the recommendation for a new model for infant feeding support last month and a final decision has now been made by the Cabinet Member for Strategic Commissioning and Public Health, Peter Oakford.

    He said: “This provides opportunity for us to extend the reach of our service with more flexibility as the health visiting service is universal and available to every family with a child of pre-school age.

    “We have recognised that the previous investment in breastfeeding was relatively small, and that only a small proportion of families eligible for support could access the service. As a result, the new model embeds breastfeeding support into Health Visiting, to offer the opportunity for support to all families with children under five-years-old across Kent.”

    KCC has listened carefully to all those who replied to the consultation and have met with concerned service users. We have addressed some of the misinformation from campaigners such as:

    • “Breastfeeding support groups will be reduced and there will no longer be specialist breastfeeding support” – The requirement for specialist support has not been cut and all peer supporters and specialists who wish to carry on will be welcomed. The service welcomes new peer supporters and will be launching a campaign to encourage more women to share their experiences.

    The health visiting service is committed to ensuring that all women have access to a lactation consultant when and where needed, and are training additional lactation consultants to achieve this. This will lead to a more flexible and readily available response.

    The service will include:

    • Health Visitors will provide 36 weekly breast feeding drop-in sessions to include breastfeeding support provided by a dedicated health visitor and supported by Breastfeeding Peer Supporters.
    • 24 Specialist clinics spread across the county, staffed by Lactation Consultants.
    • The flexibility to increase lactation consultant support where the need for additional capacity is identified. KCC has committed investment for this.
    • “Health Visitors are not suitably qualified” – Health visitors are nurses or midwives who have received further higher education in public health and are on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Register as Specialist Community Public Health Nurses.

    Lactation consultants with exactly the same qualifications as in the current model will continue to be employed.

    The continued professional development of trained health visitors to be accredited as lactation consultants will create further flexibility within the service to offer home visits, support for the health visiting team and telephone advice.

    There will also be accredited training for new breastfeeding peer supporters.

    • “The Health Visiting Service is over-stretched” – The Health Visiting Services has received significant investment following national policy in 2011 to double the specialist workforce which is currently 247 qualified Health Visitors. This was in recognition that the service was hugely valuable to families. Performance and reach of the service has continuously improved over the last 2 years.
    • “There will be cuts in number of peer supporters” – The breastfeeding peer supporter role and the groups will continue with supervision from health visitors.

    The number of supporter roles is always dependent on the number of volunteers who provide their time, and this role will continue to be actively promoted. There will be continuation and development of the voluntary peer breastfeeding supporters.

    • “Breastfeeding rates will be affected” – KCC is committed to increasing the number of women initiating and continuing to breastfeed. We have committed additional investment in developing local campaigns to promote and increase information on breast feeding.

    KCC Media Hub: NHS Health Visitors to provide new infant feeding services model

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