THE GOVERNMENT announced last week that it would spend £30m on expanding a pilot scheme for young mothers.
The money, allocated under the Treasury’s comprehensive spending review, will be used over the next three years to develop the Family Nurse Partnership Programme, junior health minister Ann Keen said at the Unite/CPHVA annual
conference at Torquay.
The FNPP, based on a 30-year-old US initiative, is currently operating at 10 sites across England, including Tower Hamlets and County Durham.
It has been evaluated in the US where it has been heralded for improving the lives of thousands of vulnerable children.
However, the English pilots, which are less than seven months old, are still being studied by Birkbeck College, part of the University of London.
‘The programme is proving popular and is taken up by 90% of the hard-to-reach families it is offered to,’ Ms Keen said. ‘It has also been welcomed by health visitors and midwives who are seeing positive changes.’
But community nurse leaders raised concerns that the plans were premature.
Cheryll Adams, Unite/CPHVA acting lead professional, said:
‘I don’t want to be negative about it, as it’s fantastic that the government to trying to make a difference but extending it before it has been evaluated fully in England seems rash.
‘It’s all very well saying it works in America but they have a totally different culture and health system from us.
Ms Adams also said she was concerned that the programme only focused on 2% of the most vulnerable families.
‘What then happens about the other 98% that are also vulnerable? It’s a good idea but not if it pulls health visitors away from a practice which is already stretched past being safe.’