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Nursing support for vulnerable mothers could be axed

  • 10 Comments

Family Nurse Partnerships could be scrapped next April after the Department of Health confirmed their funding would fall under the government spending review.

The scheme, which sees vulnerable, first-time mothers given intensive support from pregnancy until the child is two, are only funded until the end of this financial year.

A DH spokeswoman said: “Decisions about any further development in Family Nurse Partnerships will be made alongside other policy priorities in the context of the spending review.

“By April 2011 we expect 7,000 families to have benefitted from the Family Nurse Partnership.”

The schemes operate in 56 different areas and were first piloted in 2007.

An FNP team in Derby employs six nurses with three support staff. The team has applied to become a social enterprise.

In December last year then health minister Ann Keen wrote to primary care trust board chairs praising the programme and urging them to recommend it to their chief executives.

The coalition government has promised a white paper on public health in the Autumn and said it aims to recruit 4,200 health visitors but it is not clear where these will be based.

  • 10 Comments

Readers' comments (10)

  • Gemma Watford

    Again a lack of staffing has been known to compormise patient safety, when will this all get sorted?? We as a country have had enough of pen-pushing non-experienced polititians making the rules. The rulings for thsi asnd other forms of healthcare, should come from the clinicians ,who have the necessary expertise and training. Then maybe they would decide how many staff are adequate in each working area/department.

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  • Thank you for sharing hopping to see more from your end,keep it the good work going.

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  • Actually, if they invested in health visiting you wouldn't need family nurse partnerships as HVs could return to knowing families well and supporting them. In one area you could have a HV struggling with 900 families and 4 nurses/HVs in the FNP with 60 clients and the reality is some families refuse to work with them as they want a 'normal' HV, that work then gets returned to the HV with 900 families (including vulnerable and child protection). Can it be justified when staffing is so short that 4 nurses have 60 families and one HV has 900 - with a collection of equally vulnerable families, is that fair on anyone? It may work in the US - but they don't have a universal HV service, I think that's a big confounder in the research. Just invest in Health Visiting.

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  • I think the FNP service was a response to the cry from HVs that they could not give the time that was needed for the most vulnerable families. An alternative approach would be to increase the number of HVs, but to firmly prioritise their work, so that the most vulnerable families got the most help.

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  • Yes.. increase Health Visitor I say; and they can also take on the responsibility of vaccinating the children in these families, instead of the overworked practice nurses who are not paediatric trained!

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  • I have to clarify that not all health visitors are paediatric trained. Some have backgrounds in midwifery and some are adult trained. Also, depending on the area where you work, several health visitors do vaccinate, and support immunisation programmes in the 0-5 age group, school aged children and flu and pneumonia vaccines for elderley and vulnerable groups. And despite the FNP service, all health visitors still continue to support vulnerable families and are also overworked!!!.

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  • As a Health Visitor I am often amazed at knowledge regarding what we do and the services we provide. Of course I would have tried to obtain a post as a FNP because they get paid at a higher rate and have smaller caseloads!! I am a paediatric trained nursse, but as a paeditric trained nurse very, very few of us have had training to immunise. If allowed we offer an extremely good service offering extra support where necessary, but there are too few of us to be able to provide this. FNP is something that was established in America where they do not have Health Visitors (or anything similar to us) so according to research this offered a brilliant service. Once again this was trialed in Britain and the trial only lasted 8 months before these were implemented. This was not sufficient time to guage how well this service worked and NHS money would be better spent training up new Health Visitors. I think the new idea of training HV's over 12 months that are not already Nurse trained is an appalling notion, my abilities extend from my experiences as a nurse and Joe Public (in my and other HV's I have spoken to) opinion is a ridiculous and obviously just a cost reducing exercise which should never be allowed to happen.

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  • I feel that I have to comment. I am a Family Nurse and have previously practised as a Health Visitor. In my view there is a need for investment in both Health Visiting and FNP. FNP is not health visiting to a smaller caseload, it is an entirely different model delivered using a range of different interventions. The FNP programme is also entirely voluntary and has been very well accepted by the vast majority of clients and we are seeing some amazing results.

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  • I'm sorry the government also scrapped the evaluation, so there will no clear evidence of success or failure. Some excellent things about it, but clearly wrong to have 1:25 ratio for teenage parents in areas where health visitors have 6-800 families on their caseload, of whom 40, 50 or 100 might be extremely vulnerable.
    Incidentally, nobody is suggesting one year direct entry training anywhere. But it is mad to insist on three years training as a nurse prior to entering HV education, instead of setting up a new system of three years to train as a health visitor, or a two years full time Masters for the hundreds of unemployed graduates in a parallel field. That would solve the recruitment problem!

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  • I'm sorry the government also scrapped the evaluation, so there will no clear evidence of success or failure. Some excellent things about it, but clearly wrong to have 1:25 ratio for teenage parents in areas where health visitors have 6-800 families on their caseload, of whom 40, 50 or 100 might be extremely vulnerable.
    Incidentally, nobody is suggesting one year direct entry training anywhere. But it is mad to insist on three years training as a nurse prior to entering HV education, instead of setting up a new system of three years to train as a health visitor, or a two years full time Masters for the hundreds of unemployed graduates in a parallel field. That would solve the recruitment problem!

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