The Family Nurse Partnership scheme is to be extended to support more young parents in Scotland.
The programme, which supports first time parents aged 19 and under, was first introduced in Scotland in 2010 and already runs in seven health board areas.
From next year, the programme will begin in NHS Forth Valley and NHS Grampian. In addition, places on the programme in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde – and NHS Fife will be increased.
Expectant mothers are visited by a specially trained nurse every one or two weeks during pregnancy and throughout the first two years of their baby’s life.
When the scheme was first introduced in England in 2007, questions were raised about whether resources would be diverted from health visiting teams. However, these concerns appear to have largely subsided.
Announcing the expansion of the programme, Scottish health secretary Alex Neil said: “Through this programme the children I meet are healthier and happier through the positive choices made by parents.
“That’s why it is important that more families are going to be able to benefit from this programme,” he added. “The assistance of these partnerships last beyond a generation and it’s hoped the good judgments parents make now will be taken on by their children when they start a family.”
The Scottish Government has pledged to increase places to 2,000 and have at least one team in each viable health board area by end of 2015. It has invested around £8.6m in the programme since 2010.
The new announcement will increase the 67 nurses and eight supervisors already involved. The current capacity of 1,670 parents will also rise.
Two more health boards, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders, are also in discussion about introducing the programme.
The average cost of the project is £3,000 per client, per year, with the programme lasting two-and-a-half years.
The programme originates in the US. It was the brainchild of David Olds, professor of paediatrics and director of the Prevention Research Centre for Family and Child Health at the University of Colorado.
Health board areas already running the scheme are:
- NHS Lothian
- NHS Tayside
- NHS Fife
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (Glasgow City, East and West Dunbartonshire)
- NHS Ayrshire and Arran
- NHS Highland
- NHS Lanarkshire
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