The Scottish capital is to offer full access to an early years nurse support programme tailored for first-time mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Edinburgh has become the first city in the world to offer the Family Nurse Partnership programme to all eligible women, the Scottish Government has announced.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said sufficient resources and staffing were now in place for every eligible young mother in the city to be offered a place on the programme.
The programme was introduced in Edinburgh in 2010, the initiative having first been brought to the UK in 2007, starting in England.
“It has also made a real and lasting impact after it was rolled out across the rest of Lothian and also Scotland”
The programme has subsequently been rolled out across seven other health boards in Scotland – Tayside, Fife, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley and Lanarkshire. There are plans for its expansion into Borders and Grampian over the summer.
Ms Sturgeon said that since its launch in NHS Lothian, the programme had provided support and advice to 660 young women, with an average take-up rate of 81% among eligible mothers.
She said: “I’m delighted to announce today that Edinburgh has become the first city anywhere in the world, to offer the family nurse partnership to every first-time mother aged 19 and under. It’s a testament to the success of the partnership so far.”
Ms Sturgeon described the programme as “one of the best investments we can make as a society”, noting that it gave young mothers the support, helped children to get the “best possible start in life”, and reduced public spending “further down the line”.
Melanie Johnson, executive nurse director for NHS Lothian, said: “The service first began as a pilot project in January 2010 in Edinburgh and since then it has gone from strength to strength.
“It has also made a real and lasting impact after it was rolled out across the rest of Lothian and also Scotland,” he said.
“To have the first city in the world to reach 100% coverage for teenage mums is an amazing achievement”
The programme provides intensive, preventive, one-to-one home visiting for young, first time mothers from early pregnancy until their child is two years old. Its main aims are to improve pregnancy outcomes, child health and development and the economic self-sufficiency of the family.
It was originally developed in the US state of Colorado, by Professor David Olds, under the name Nurse-Family Partnership.
Kate Billingham, senior adviser at Nurse Family Partnership International and former deputy chief nursing officer for England, said: “On behalf of the programme’s founder, Professor David Olds I congratulate Scotland and all they have achieved for young parents and their children.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon
“To have the first city in the world to reach 100% coverage for teenage mums – along with high levels of quality – is an amazing achievement,” she said.
Over 35 years of US research have suggested significant benefits young mothers and their children in the short, medium and long-term. However, there is currently a dearth of research on the programme’s impact so far in the UK.
Findings from a study were due to be revealed last year by the Department of Health, but it remains unpublished at present.