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Ministers call for more family nurse schemes

Government ministers have written to NHS managers encouraging them to set up more Family Nurse Partnership teams.

FNP teams – in which specially trained nurses work with vulnerable first time mothers from early pregnancy until the child is two years old – are currently operating at 40 sites with a further ten due to be added in January.

In a letter sent to primary care trusts this month, health minister Ann Keen and children’s minister Dawn Primarolo said: “We are writing to draw to your attention to the powerful contribution we both believe the FNP programme can offer as a preventive and early intervention service for potentially high need, high cost families in your area.

“Two years of testing FNP in England has shown that it can be delivered well, it is welcomed by vulnerable first time, young mothers and fathers and the early impacts look promising. It is becoming a key programme offering a real opportunity to prevent some of our most vulnerable children facing a lifetime of exclusion and failure,” they said.

An evaluation of the second year of the programme, published in September, suggested FNP teams were having a positive effect on reducing smoking during pregnancy and increasing rates of breastfeeding.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Yes, it is a great idea, but make sure, the right nurse, gets the job. Empathy and Caring must be included in the list of qualifications.

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  • I think this is a really interesting idea and would like to read more about the research behind it. I firmly believe that if we are to get to the heart of some of the problems that we have in society, we must work hard to educate people younger, and if direct intervention with those at risk is being proven to work then we must roll this out further.

    I would be interested to know where these 40 trials have been held, after all we know that there are pockets of deprivation scattered throughout the country and careful evaluation should take place as to where these teams should be placed.

    Anonymously - surely it goes without saying that empathy and care should be prerequisites for *any* nurse, not just a FNP?

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  • The FNP model is nothing new. It is based on the UK health visitor model; something that has existed successfully, and has been well researched, for years.
    If the govt invested in HV training, restored legal status, and re-opened the HV register they would be half way to solving the problem. As it is, FNP nurses focus on young parents (who can choose to opt in or out of the programme) and have a limited caseload of 25 families. HVs on the other hand, have caseloads of 200+ and have to provide a reduced service to the remainder of parents. It is well documented that the most vulnerable do not access available services for a variety of reasons, and that includes young people who qualify for FNP services. In addition, there are many excellent teenage parents who cope a lot better, and have less problems, than many older or middle class parents. So why produce policy document after policy document promoting the HV role in the health and well being children and families, but at the same time invest huge amounts of money in a small minority and reduce resources to a service that is valued by many?

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  • I agree with the previous post regarding health visitors and would go one step further by saying implementing this programme is in reality reducing the number of health visitors and therefore increasing the caseloads of those that are left. The trial for this originally lasted only 8 months, this model of care is from America where is has been running for over 30 yrs (but in America they do not have universal visiting that is provided by Health visitors in the UK)
    Also Professor Olds himself who set up this programme in America actually said it would not produce the same results here as in America due to the fact there is nothing similar to that of health visiting, in America!
    Another point is that those who are already undertaking this role in the UK are reported to be working above capacity to fulfill their obligations in this role (therefore another lot of time owing that the nursing profession will never get back!!)
    The reason nurses are migrating to this role is mostly that it is a 7 instead of a 6!!

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  • Margery Mary Hawkins

    What happened to Health Visitors?

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  • Why is there a bottle feeding baby pictured in nursing times? In reply to the previous post health visitors are doing their best with case loads of 500 plus

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