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£30m boost to vulnearble parenting scheme

A planned £30m expansion of an initiative to help equip young people with parenting skills will help many more vulnerable families, Health Minister Ann Keen announced yesterday.

The Family Nurse Partnership initiative is testing nurse-led home visits for vulnerable first time young parents.

The scheme is already being tested in 10 areas in England where family nurses visit young disadvantaged parents from early pregnancy until the child is two years old.

Health Minister Ann Keen said at the CPHVA annual professional conference yesterday that the extra £30m investment will "give more PCTs and local authorities the opportunity to use the programme, build the UK evidence base, and make sure that leaning is shared across universal services."

She adds: "The programme is proving popular and is taken p by 90% of the hard to reach families that it is offered to. It has also been welcomed by health visitors and midwives who are seeing positive changes take place in behaviour, relationships and well being."

However, Health Visitor union Amicus/CPHVA say they believe the health visiting service should be avialble to all, not just the most vulnerable 2% of the population.

"We believe that the minister, Ann Keen has shown some understanding of the complex crisis facing health visitors - but we also believe that there are ways this strategy can be improved," they said.

"Unite/CPHVA wishes to work with government to meet its family-orientated goals - but the resources need to be made available. Last week, we asked for 4,000 more health visitors to achieve some of these goals.

"This government has called for 3,500 extra cognitive behavioural therapists.

"If a fully resourced health visiting service had been in place, offering early intervention to all families, then the need for such therapists would diminish."


Do you agree with the vulnerable family nursing initiative or should resources be shared around? (Please leave your comments, name and location in the box below. Your details will not be published if you so request. (Terms and conditions apply)

"I feel so much money all round is wasted on immature, irresponsible people who become parents because they do not think of the consequences. This budget should include everyone, not just the young mothers but the aged as well as often these vunerable people are badly neglected and forgotten. If young girls/women thought before they had children, eg, can I afford to give up work, do I really want the responsibility, am I ready for motherhood, there wouldn't be so many vunerable and needy families." - Carol Russell, Isle of Thanet

"Probably a good idea, but isn't this a bit of a sticking plaster. Surely if there were enough health visitors every vulnerable family could be helped, not just the very young. Health visiting has been an easy target for PCTs in the past and until we invest in prevention will continue to be so - Name and address supplied

"Although this targeted approach is not a new concept it appears totally appropriate to re-visit this initiative. In a resource stretched NHS this appears to be one way that may 'target' services for the most vulnerable clients, support tackling inequalities and contribute to achieving measurable outcomes. This is essential not only for clients but for a service that needs to provide evidence of its worth" - Name and address supplied

All families need to be screened in order that their needs are assessed. Who decides whether a family is disadvantaged or vulnerable? What happens to vulnerable families who live in affluent areas, apart from being further marginalised? Health Visitors are the best people to do all of this work. Don't try and reinvent the wheel by trying to get the same for less money. Do we ever hear of GPs having to take any of cuts in their service when we all know that over 50 per cent of their clinical work could be done by nurses" - Name and address supplied

"I know the programme works, as I am one of the Family Nurses delivering the programme. The programme is very intensive and is not designed for every family, but for the most vulnerable families. As it is in its pilot phase it cannot be delivered to all vulnerable families and that is the reason for focusing on young first time parents. The initial evaluation has already showed dramatic improvements in pregnancy outcomes for mother and baby and relevant others e.g. behaviour change, father involvement, etc. Secondly not all Health Visitors are suited or will want to work in this way. So individual HVs will have to decide whether they want to deliver universal health visiting or work with vulnerable families. The way health visiting is being delivered now is not meeting the needs of every family. In fact we are failing so many families. We need to respond to what families want, and this is what some of our families desire, just ask them" - Name and address supplied

"An excellent idea, but isn't it similar to the Sure start programme which if I remember rightly has all but folded due to lack of funding" - Name and address supplied

"This is certainly an excellent resource but I agree with the writer from Wallasey that it should be available to all those who feel the need for extra support. Almost all first time parents are vulnerable and many although not classed as being "vulnerable" need more support than is available from the Health Visiting services. The answer however is not as suggested in the comment below in the training of more and higher grades for qualified health visitors, but will be in working together as a team sharing knowledge and expertise and appreciating that no one speciality has the monopoly on training and understanding needed to ensure the health and wellbeing in childcare" - Elaine Wilson, South Wales

"We are dealing with vunerable young girls and babies lives. These babies will grow into problem children if they are not supported through their mothers/parents. My own daughter benefited greatly, not from my input as a mother, but from outside professionals offering advice" - Yvonne Payne, Ball
Tree Surgery, Sussex

"I think this American initiative has been proven to work in America because they don't have health visitors. The amount of problems still in the US has not been addressed by family nurses. The UK £30million should go to properly resourcing health visitors and Surestart, instead of reducing training by 40%, increasing grade mix  and paying health visitors a miserly band 6. Retention and recruitment has become a problem as hard pressed health visitors struggle to do the same with less health visitors. People intersted in health visiting see a profession under seige. The US intitiative is similar to Webster Stratton and I welcome any intitiative that improves parenting and establishing confident and happy parents/children. Instead of mixed messages from the DoH we deserve more money to tried and tested UK ethods of parenting support - Name and address supplied

"I think it's an excellend idea. Young parents need a lot of help but it should be shared around as others who may not be vunerable could still  benefit from help" - A. Leach, Wallasey