For the last 10 years, new families in Blackpool have benefited from a fantastic local breastfeeding peer support service. These peer supporters –breastfeeding mums themselves – have provided information and support with breastfeeding to pregnant women, to new mothers in the hospital after birth, and via phone, groups and home visits and for up to 8 weeks and beyond, as part of the commissioned service.
Infant feeding coordinators have also made sure that the service is fully integrated into the health service, and they have trained Health Visitors and Children’s Centre staff in the community, leading to a Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative award first in October 2011 and then re-accreditation in April 2014. The integrated service has also been recognised as “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission and been used as an example of good practice by NICE Guidance. The service has helped to bring about a shift in attitudes towards breastfeeding in the local area, and since it began there has been a 50% increase in the number of babies who are breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks.
Now all this is about to be lost – Blackpool Council have decided that the service will end on 30 June 2017.
There will be no commissioned peer supporters from this time, no one to supervise or co-ordinate any volunteers, and the community infant feeding co-ordinator role is also to be terminated.
The council say that health visitors can provide the same level of support to mothers, but this will be impossible. Aside from the antenatal visit between 28 and 36 weeks, Health Visitors only see mums from 10 days after birth – by which time many will have given up on breastfeeding without the valuable help they would have got in hospital and at home from the breastfeeding peer supporters.
Breastfeeding rates – already low in Blackpool – are bound to fall, leading to increased costs for the local NHS services as more babies visit doctors and hospitals.
We are asking Blackpool Council to reverse the decision to end this amazing peer support service, which has helped thousands of local mums.
CLICK HERE to sign the petition and add your voice.
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CLICK HERE for more information.