Children at risk if universal health visiting service is cut

Increased targeting of health visiting services at first-time mothers in deprived groups could put thousands of children at risk, a child protection expert has warned.

The DoH is running 10 Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) pilots across England, in which nurses visit low-income first-time parents from pregnancy until the child reaches two years of age. The DoH recently announced an additional £30 million to expand the programme.

The pilots run in tandem with the universal health visiting service, but fears have emerged that it could become an alternative.

Professor Kevin Browne, of the University of Liverpool's Centre for Child Development, Care and Protection, told the Unite/CPHVA conference in Torquay this month: 'We have to convince the government to spend extra money, not fund this by taking away from the existing health visitor service.

Professor Browne said that analysis of the NFP model showed that if only 'first-time mothers with economic problems' were targeted by health visitors, the 'vast majority' of families who maltreat their children would be missed.

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