The Family Nurse Partnership will be “expanded significantly” so that eligible mothers in all parts of Scotland can benefit from the programme “by the end of next year”, ministers have said.
By the end of 2018, up to 60 additional fully trained nurses will be recruited nationwide to deliver the programme, according to an announcement from the Scottish government today.
“We want to ensure every eligible mother can access this support”
The programme sees young first-time mothers receive frequent one-to-one home visits from nurses from early pregnancy until their child’s second birthday.
Family nurses provide a wide range of support to ensure the child gets the best possible start in life, with mothers encouraged to make positive decisions around their own behaviours and life goals.
Overall, more than 4,500 young mothers have received the programme in Scotland, with over 2,500 having graduated since 2010.
The government said the expansion to ensure all eligible first time mothers aged 19 and under could benefit would bring annual costs to around £16m a year when fully rolled out by the end of 2018.
This represents an additional investment of around £5.5m, reflecting the cost of recruiting and training the nurses, and providing supervision and administrative support, it said in a statement.
The scheme was first set up in Scotland at a test site in NHS Lothian with a first cohort of clients over the period January 2010 to April 2013. Further sites in Tayside, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Fife, Ayrshire and Arran, Highland and Lanarkshire have followed.
It has now also reached into Borders and Grampian. In March 2015, Edinburgh became the first city in the world to offer the Family Nurse Partnership programme to all eligible women.
Last year, the Scottish government announced that the programme would also start to be offered to eligible 20-24 year olds, with the aim of making it available to up to 8,000 mothers by 2018-19.
- Family nurse scheme to be expanded in Scotland
- Scottish family nurse programme to ‘expand and adapt’
- Edinburgh first city to offer family nurse service ‘to all eligible mothers’
Speaking in Dundee on 30 October, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We want to make Scotland the best country in the world to grow up in.
“A key part of that is ensuring all children, regardless of background, have the best possible start in life,” she said at an event to celebrate NHS Tayside having supported more than 1,000 women through the programme since 2011.
“The Family Nurse Partnership has helped thousands of children and first-time mums across Scotland,” said Ms Sturgeon.
“We want to ensure every eligible mother can access this support, and the expansion of the programme will make that a reality,” she added.
It is based on the Nurse-Family Partnership scheme that was developed in the US by Professor David Olds and is delivered in the UK under licence.
The scheme was first introduced in the UK in England during 2007-08, after which it was widely adopted with the backing of ministers, but has come under pressure from public health spending cuts in recent years.
- Council plans radical public health nurse shake-up
- Public health cuts will have ‘huge’ impact in years to come
- Threat of public health nurse cuts becoming reality
In addition, a major evaluation of the scheme in England, published in 2015, concluded that it had not produced the improved health outcomes it was expected to.
It did not help expectant mothers stop smoking or lower the rates of a second pregnancy within two years, according to the government-commission study published in The Lancet. However, Scottish ministers have previously said they expect the scheme to provide longer term benefits.