Changes to public health services for children in Cumbria

The provision of public health services for children in Cumbria between the ages of 0-19 is changing from the 1st April 2017. 

A newly designed service approved by Cumbria County Council in October 2016 brings together existing health professionals to strengthen support for the most vulnerable children and provide a more equitable service for all children in Cumbria.  

The funding available to Cumbria County Council to provide these services has reduced in line with the national picture and in recommissioning the services, took the opportunity to work with schools and staff to redesign the traditional services they commission to better meet the needs of all children across Cumbria. 

The current services affected are:

  • 0-5 services – health visiting and family nurse partnership
  • 5-19 services – school age nursing services

Under the new service, the family nurse partnership service will be decommissioned and replaced by the strengthening families team which will also include existing specialist health visitors, school nurses and other multi agency staff who support our more vulnerable children.  Newly designed services that will be commissioned will include:

Strengthening Families Team – supporting children on a child protection plan, child in need or looked after children

0 - 5 services - health visiting service providing key contacts and assessments and the National Child Measurement Programme

5 – 19 school age nursing services consisting of:

  • Six Children’s Public Health Nurse roles to oversee the universal provision of the 5-19 element of the Healthy Child Programme.
  • Co-ordinating and reviewing health and development reviews
  • Single point of contact within each locality for schools and families for queries related to school aged health.
  • ChatHealth – text messaging service for children and young people.  

To complement the core offer for 5-19 year olds, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are also offering additional services that can be tailored to schools or clusters of schools who would like to supplement the core offer.  

Councillor Ian Stewart, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Public Health and Community Services said “These changes will result in a broader and better service for children and young people and follow detailed consultation with provider organisations, partners, staff, parents and young people about the type of service they want.

“In particular, arrangements for safeguarding vulnerable children will be enhanced because there will be one named person working with each family on all health matters, and a strong focus will remain on the key priorities of promoting breastfeeding, tackling obesity, and supporting mental and emotional health and wellbeing.

“While the government has cut the budget for public health, the council continues to try to protect the service from the full impact of that cut, and through better integration of health, education and social care we can achieve these improvements for less cost.”

Joanne Hiley is the Associate Director of Nursing for the Children & Families Care Group at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides the health visiting and school nursing service.  “Currently the school nursing service is only made up of 11 whole time equivalent staff to support all the schools in Cumbria.   Although each school has a named contact now, due to caseloads and geographical spread, there is not equity of service provision on the ground across Cumbria.  The core offer of the new service will enable schools to contact one of 6 public health and wellbeing nurses for support and advice.  In addition to this, we are offering schools the opportunity to buy in additional schools nursing services to complement the core offer.  We have designed this offer following feedback from schools who have told us they would still like to have a face to face school nursing service.   This is a not for profit offer that will be provided at cost by our staff who have full access to health records.  We have already been providing this service into a school consortium in the Millom area for three years with very good feedback”.

Janice Brockbank is the Chair of the Millom Schools Partnership.  She has purchased additional school nursing services from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for a partnership of schools in Millom over the last three years and is looking to renew their contract next year.  She said, “we have found that the additional services have improved the lines of communication between health and education for the benefit of the children in our schools.   One example of this is the monthly meeting the school nurse has with each headteacher to discuss safeguarding issues or identify any new children who require support.  It also enables us to plan tailored preventative sessions on asthma, epilepsy, healthy eating, dental, puberty, and sexual health.”

A consultation with staff providing the current services is underway in partnership with staff representatives with the new service due to commence from 1st April.

For more information about the buy back offer, please click here.