Local authorities across England are consulting on plans to revamp public health services for children and young people that could affect nursing roles and jobs.
The drive to redesign services including health visiting and school nursing comes amid swingeing cuts to the amount of money allocated to local authorities for public health.
“We are currently reviewing the health visitor service as part of our ongoing reform”
Manchester City Council is among those seeking to make savings as part of plans to integrate key 0-19 health services with other early intervention work.
Currently health visiting services in Manchester are provided by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The authority estimates it could save £500,000 in 2018-19 with a new health visitor contract.
“The option would require a re-commissioned health visitor and associated capacity, with increased focus on acting as a lead worker for families with young children in need of additional support and early intervention,” state council papers.
The move would feed into a wider “early years delivery model” designed to bring together the work currently done by children’s centres, health visitors and other partners.
It would see teams made up of health visitors, early years workers and school staff operating out of 12 main “children and family hubs” based in or next to schools. Each hub would have one or two “satellite bases” to ensure services reached all local families.
“Services need modernising to ensure they meet the diverse needs of local people”
The authority is urging local people to have their say on the plans in a consultation, which started on 3 November and ends on 15 December.
“We are currently reviewing the health visitor service as part of our ongoing reform of early years provision and it is one of the options in the council’s budget consultation,” said Manchester City Council’s director of public health David Regan.
Following the consultation, firmed-up proposals are expected to be published in early January. There will be further consultation on these plans before the final budget is set in March.
Thurrock Council in Essex has also announced plans to integrate children’s public health services with children’s centre and family support services. It launched a public consultation earlier this week.
The authority said it was looking to reduce the number of services doing similar work and bring them together under one roof with services sharing council, NHS and other building like libraries and community centres.
“This will make sure we make the best use of the money the council has,” said the consultation. The authority added that it would publish a proposed model for services by January next year.
Meanwhile, other councils are seeking the views of local residents and professionals to help shape their plans.
These include Solihull Council, which is seeking views on services including health visiting, the local family nurse partnership programme and an infant feeding service that provides advice on breastfeeding and nutrition.
Slough Council has announced its public health team will be re-commissioning health services for 0-19s and launched a consultation that has just finished.
“The existing services were commissioned some time ago and as Slough has changed considerably over the years, the services need modernising to ensure they meet the diverse needs of local people,” said councillor Sabia Hussain, commissioner for health and social care, when the consultation was launched.
A council spokeswoman said the authority would be analysing the data from the consultation before agreeing a way forward.
Others, like Nottinghamshire County Council, have already awarded contracts. From next April, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will provide a new service combining the family nurse partnership, health visiting, school nursing, the National Child Measurement Programme and breastfeeding support.
Elsewhere, Cumbria County Council has agreed a plan that will see some school and family nurses employed by Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust redeployed in local multi-agency teams and other school nurses move into a new “clinical school-aged co-ordinator” roles.