Safeguarding of young families central to new review of Notts health visitors service
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Nottinghamshire Council will formally scrutinise its future Healthy Families programme amid fears some parents and babies have “fallen through the cracks”.
The concerns relate to the NHS-backed Health Visitors service, which involves families being visited by healthcare workers before and after the birth of a child.
Five of these in-person meetings should be held from late pregnancy to the child reaching about two-and-a-half years.
However, concerns about the visits have been raised in several recent council meetings, amid fears some families are being left behind.
This led to calls for the service to be scrutinised before it is ultimately recommissioned by the authority from October 2024.
Now a major scrutiny review has been launched as part of a wider assessment of the council’s Healthy Families programme.
The programme, which includes the health visitors service, sets out ways to support families across the county “from 2024 and beyond”.
The council cabinet initially approved the programme in March before the decision was “called in” for scrutiny.
Opposition Labour councillors said they were “categorically unsupportive” of some elements of the programme, particularly around health visits and feared the wider scheme should not be approved if the health visitor project is recommissioned in its current form.
A special scrutiny meeting was then held in March before the cabinet agreed in April to take a second look at the plans.
The authority’s overview committee has now met to set out the terms of the scrutiny review.
Its scope will focus on the design of the programme from October 2024. This includes the impact of the service on children and families, contract flexibility, engagement with the public and performance management.
Martin Elliott, a senior scrutiny officer at the council, said: “Safeguarding issues and procedures are robust at the council. When you carry out this review, you can get the assurance safeguarding procedures in the Healthy Families programme will be covered.”
A report detailing the findings of the review group will be presented to the overview committee at a later date.