Failing Families: Health Visitor Clinic Closures

It’s been 8 years since I started NorthHantsMum in June 2011.

I’ve seen a lot of changes during that time. Unfortunately many of those changes have negatively impacted local families, especially Mums with babies and small children and families with SEN children.

Yesterday I saw that the Health Visitor clinic schedule has been changed again so that now the Drop In’s are only Monday at The Ridgeway Centre and Friday at the Discovery Centre. The others are by appointment only.

Many of the clinics that have been running for at least 8 years (I know because I used them) have now been cancelled, such as Christchurch Chineham, Overton, Hatch Warren, Whitchurch and Bramley.

I understand that we are living in times of “austerity” but why is it that families, especially Mums and young children, are targeted with any cuts first?

What you can do!!!

If, like me, you are pissed off/ fed up  (I don’t swear on NHM but I feel it’s appropriate in this instance!) with the way local families are being repeatedly let down then this is what you can do:

Specifically email ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut.

Please cc. me in any emails that you send (NorthHantsMum@gmail.com).

  1. Email the head of Southern Health: hp-tr.complaints@nhs.net
  2. Email Maria Miller: maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk
  3. Email your local councillor. You can find your local councillor here by using your postcode: https://democracy.basingstoke.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx

(You can copy and paste all of the emails from here: hp-tr.complaints@nhs.net;  maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk; NorthHantsMum@gmail.com)

Specifically tweet ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut:

  1. Tweet the head of Southern Health: https://twitter.com/NickBroughton4
  2. Tweet Maria Miller: https://twitter.com/MariaMillerUK
  3. Tweet your local councillors

The remaining clinics also have feedback forms, so please complete these as well.

Please make sure you add comments as to why it matters to you that the clinics have been cut as the way these things work is that individual letters/emails count more than group ones.

What to write about

You could write about how disappointed you are that so many clinics have been discontinued because they were so important to you when your baby was born as they were somewhere for you to go for support.

You could write about how annoyed you are that funding cuts are impacting new Mums and thus putting them at more risk of post natal depression.

You could write about how angry you are that new Mums and future new Mums are being failed by the services that are supposed to be in place to support them.

You could also write something similar to this which I’ve been sent by another local Mum: “in recent years in our area parents have lost specialised breastfeeding support when grant funding was not extended and have had closures of Children’s Centres (11 remain out of 64 in Hampshire I think). To say that support for parents has been decimated is an understatement. I understand that money is tight but the latest blow will affect those parents who are only just coping and in turn these women and children will need to access more services via their GPs for example or as mental health referrals. I consider these additional closures will knock on to the health and well being of ordinary families and will cost the whole system more in the long run. We were promised more Health Visitors in the call for action – instead it seems we have fewer with just a skeleton service remaining. I worry for those families who in the past would have got early support from a trusted Health Visitor – who now will go under the radar. If a GP visit costs around £45, a hospital overnight stay more like £500 and a child taken in to care around £50K per annum… we can see how cutting services for families to the bare minimum will soon knock on to these other budgets. We are calling for a joined up approach to services in the county.”

You can obviously write whatever you would like but please put why it matters to you that the Health Visitor Clinics have been cut.

On Social Media you could use the hashtag #FailingFamilies.

Summary of Closures

If you have a bit more time and feel like you really want to “go to town” on how local families are being let down, then please see my summary of closures and cancellations in the past 4 years….

2015

2016

(There is now direct evidence of how children’s centres saved the NHS millions of pounds: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/04/sure-start-saved-nhs-millions?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR38KyULT_ELrGweVxT_rNIHgJIK4RKL491e0MVUbcHjaVmsiC99gW3lRC8) Thank you to Danielle for sharing with me).

2017

  • 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, meaning many Mums are being forced back into working much earlier than they would want too.

2018

  • Closing of Little Play Town in Nov 2018
  • Manydown Family Fun Closed
  • Absolute Karting Basingstoke Closed
  • JJ’s (softplay) Closed
  • Beenham Wolf Sanctury Closed
  • Reduction of funding for school buses – August 2018
  • Removal of school buses for children with disabilities – August 2018
  • National Playday at Eastrop cancelled in 2018. This was a free day for children that had been running for years in Eastrop but now runs in a few of the local community centres instead. It’s not the same. At all.
  • Reduction in funding for the newborn courses at the remaining Children’s Centre, Westside – 2018
  • Cancellation of the EHCP process in Nov 2018 for SEN parents
  • Closing of ParentVoice and switching to Red Rose: https://www.hants.gov.uk/news/Nov27-SENDIASS
  • Changes to Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support in Hampshire

2019

  • Kids N Action Softplay Closed
(If there is anything that I have missed off this list, please let me know).

Impact of these changes

All of these changes are impacting many, many local families.

Even more so with the increase in housing of an extra 10,000 houses to be built in the local area by end of 2020, so more families are moving to the area but services are being reduced that don’t support existing families, let alone new families.

As I said above, I understand that we live in times of “austerity” but it’s very, very worrying and I try not to dwell too much on the impact these changes will have on my 8 year old daughter, her generation and future generations.

I try my best to be positive and upbeat on NHM but I think we need to try to do something to ensure that at least the Health Visitor clinics are better represented. Any help you can give with this will be greatly appreciated. If we ALL send the emails, the impact the NorthHantsMum Community could have would be huge!

Comments from other Mum’s

who have put it far more eloquently than I have!

Sarah: Sadly it Seems like this government would rather waste money hosting a £40million trump visit and push through brexit at any cost rather than look after it’s vulnerable citizens. After brexit more services like this will be cut as we will all be poorer – Apparently it’s “the will of the people”.

Genevieve: As well as writing letters, you may also wish to comment on Maria’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (or here https://www.facebook.com/159961377372565/posts/2184994638202552?s=532163237&sfns=mo – she’s very good at attending awards, not so good at helping people!).

Eleanor: Prevention is better than cure … health visitor clinics are so useful to local people in their own communities. Mums don’t think ‘oh I’m struggling, I know I’ll book a health visitor clinic’ they just keep struggling, until something breaks or nothing happens but just struggle.
I’m so sad to see the Bramley clinic cancelled. The stay and play sessions were so valuable to me. Sadly the funding is ridiculously short I presume. I’ll defiantly be emailing as you suggested. Taking away support for parents is only ever going to cause problems for parents and children in the future. Even if it’s the subtle kind of problems that don’t translate into hospital admissions etc.

Elisa: The unfortunate truth is that they are down on 5 full time health visitors for Southern Health. The reason they are not able to recruit is that most of their time is spent dealing with safe guarding issues. The role of the health visitor has sadly changed and nobody wants to do the type of work they are doing now. Add to this, the fact that the remaining staff are over worked and stressed, it’s not an environment anyone else wants to join.
So as desperately sad as it is about the decreasing availability of them, writing to anyone will sadly make no difference. The jobs are available but sadly nobody wants them ☹️.

Emma: When I had my first I could walk around to chiltern school and see a HV every other Tuesday. He was regularly weighed and as a first time mum I could ask all my questions. Fast forward 4 years and I had a prem baby. Zero support. I was told I’d have more contact because he was premature- I didn’t. When I went for weigh ins the HV’s didn’t all understand how to record his weight!! You have to plot it twice for actual and corrected. The library was the easiest one to get to but queues were horrendous and then you felt rushed because you could feel the strain. Needless to say I stopped going. It was too much effort with two children and with my baby being so little. I can’t believe they’ve reduced this even further. If I was a first time mum now I’d be very worried.

Wendy: Emma, such similar story, my first was weighed once a fortnight at first, then once a month in the Popley 5 drop in that was walking distance for all of Popley, Oakridge and South View. Then they moved it to Popley Fields for my second, no longer walking distance, not at a time that was convenient for nursery/school run. He got weighed about 4 times. He had eczema and allergies but going to the drop in meant missing out on other things or struggling with the car park, so we didn’t bother. Parking charges, town being busy, all things that would have put me off going to the library. I can only imagine what it’s like for those using public transport.

Angela: It’s thoroughly saddening to see such valuable support (emotional to individuals and economic to the wider public health system) being stripped away. I hope people remember this feeling of hopelessness during the next general election and vote for a party that is going to help the public. (I’m really sorry to make this political, but in the words of a great 90s rock band “everything’s political”. We have the power to choose a government that won’t strip the first line of support from us.)

Charlotte: It’s so sad. I used to work on a HV team and the work they do really cannot be underestimated. Yes, you can still see a HV without a clinic but as mentioned above, the clinic is such a convenient and quick way to see them, without having to book an appointment. Some parents don’t have to confidence to book an appointment, or they aren’t sure if they are wasting someone’s time (they never are wasting anyone’s time). I think the cutting down of these clinics alongside the closure of the children’s centres we really come back to bite the Government in a few years when there are increased social issues and late diagnosis of problems that could have been resolved with early intervention 😢.

Mary: To be a HV, you have to be a qualified nurse. They can’t find nurses because they cut the support for people to train. Lots of nurses stop nursing because its not compatible with being a parent unless you are lucky enough to work in a day service. Nurses, however, aren’t paid enough so free childcare is vital to contribute towards the cos. It’s more problematic that childcare support doesn’t start until age 3 so working parents have to struggle through age 1 and 2 first – or not work and then have to pay to reregister or train for their jobs. It’s all connected.

Nicole: I got my almost 3 month old weighed yesterday at Discovery Centre and I was shocked at how much it had changed since I took my first there in 2016. There was a queue out of the door to get in, and then you now weigh your baby and record it in your red book yourself. I didn’t need any support from the HV on this visit, but I’m not a healthcare professional and it would have been nice to just have them oversee it and my baby’s progress. To be honest I won’t be attending again. I feel sorry for the HVs because they look so stretched when you see them trying to get around the room, but most of them were extremely friendly and pleasant, and even found me a seat to feed the baby before I left.

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Breastfeeding Support: Hampshire Breastfeeding Counselling

Breastfeeding support from professionally trained breastfeeding counsellors in Hampshire – no appointment necessary.

Every Monday, 10 – 11.30am (closed bank holidays)
Blue Room, Sherborne Building, Basingstoke Hospital RG24 9NA

Every Monday, 1pm – 2.30pm (closed bank holidays)
Cutbush Children’s Centre, Cutbush Lane, Townhill Park, Southampton, SO18 2GF

Every Tuesday 10 – 11:30am (NCT run)
NEW venue same service The Maternity Centre, Andover War Memorial Hospital, Charlton Rd, Andover SP10 3LB

Every Tuesday 9:30 to 11:00 (NCT run)
The Salvation Army Church and Community Centre, 85 Whites Way, Hedge End, SO30 2GL

Every Wednesday 9:30am – 12pm (NCT run)
Lantern’s Children’s Centre, Bereweeke Rd., Winchester SO22 6AJ

Every Thursday, 9.30am – 11am
Baby Café at The Ashby Centre, Stratton Rd, Southampton, SO15 5QZ

Every Friday 10-11.30am (NCT run)
Brookvale Village Hall, Lower Brook St, Basingstoke, RG21 7RU

If you need phone support the National NCT Breastfeeding Helpline is open every day including bank holidays. 0300 300 0700 (8am to midnight every day of the year).

NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors are paid to work on the line and are happy to cover the bank holidays too, so are waiting for your call. If you have to leave a message, calls are generally returned within 2 hours. Any questions about opening hours please message us on Facebook and we will get back to you.

https://www.facebook.com/HampshireBreastfeedingCounselling/ 

Last Updated: September 2018

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Baby Talk – Antenatal and Postnatal Classes available at Mothercare Basingstoke

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Basingstoke NCT Nearly New Sale: COMPETITION

COMPETITION TIME

Wow !!! The Basingstoke NCT nearly new sale takes place in just under 1 month !!

This is your chance to beat the queue
By getting early entry into our ever popular NCT sale on 6th October at QMC.

We are offering a great opportunity to grab some bargains before the sale doors are open officially

3 lucky winners will be able to shop for 15 mins before the doors open to NCT members & 30 mins before general public

Winners get entry at 10.45am !!!!

To enter the competition simply……
— COMMENT with what you love about the NCT sale or say what you are looking forward to the most and TAG a friend
— LIKE & SHARE the original post and/or the page to help raise lots of pennies for the NCT charity

Link to competition / original post :-
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=439488249791746&id=134111313662776

(Liking and sharing isn’t compulsory to enter but would be appreciated)

Do the above by 10am on 28th September
The 3 winners will be announced later that day

The main NCT nearly new sale page has lots of reviews, tips and photos. Please “like” it by following the attached link –
https://www.facebook.com/BasingstokeNCTNNS/

How are we different to a lot of other sales ??

**Pay by card or cash. We have chip & pin
**Items are sorted like a shop, so easy to find
**You are supporting a charity
**Ran by volunteers
**No bartering the price with the seller. If you like the price. You buy !
**Only £1.50 entry fee
**Lots of free parking
**You pay for all items together in our payments section
** Its a trusted sale. We have been running for years
**The volunteers check the quality of items
**Lots of bargains. We now have 2 halls with many different items

(This competition is in no way affiliated with facebook)

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NHM Readers Recommend: Local Places to go for Large Groups with Pushchairs

I recently asked the NHM Community “I’m looking for suggestions of local places to go for large groups of Mums with pushchairs and little ones under 6 months old, especially places to eat or drink at.”

Many thanks for all your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers recommend local places to go for large groups with pushchairs

Rachel said “Wellington country park, eastrop park, memorial park. When I met up with the mum’s from my NCT group we found Longbridge Mill to be accommodating (we just used to warn them when we booked).”

Emma said “Beggarwood park- there’s a cafe at the new community centre

Kate said “Tea bar quite roomy in the afternoon when it’s quieter.”

Helen said “Giraffe have always been very welcoming for our buggyfit socials. They have a big room at the back they let us use and Mums can bring in buggies and feed comfortably

Lisette said “Our NCT group often met at Starbucks in festival place. At the tables and chairs outside. Always plenty of room”

  • Mary replied “We also cause total havoc on a weekly basis as the ‘outside’ seating upstairs means we aren’t in anyone’s way.”

Hannah said “Hook garden centre are good”

  • Lottie replied “Another vote for hook garden centre here”
  • Pauline said “Hook Home and Garden Centre great kids play area and cafe with amazing cakes!

Jessica said “Aingels Cafe and Bistro, lots of parking, relaxed environment and plenty of room.”

Tracy said “Dome cafe Brighton Hill is fab.”

Sarah said “Nando’s rearranged their outdoor tables for a big group of us!”

Jo said “More of the Good Stuff has lots of space and a little fenced off indoor play corner too. LOVELY cake!

Steph said “The cafe in John Lewis has loads of room but that’s more lunch/cake”

Karen said “Roses cafe

Kathryn said “Redfields garden centre in church crookham might be too far for your group”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Cranial Osteopaths for Babies

An NHM Reader recently asked: “I wondered if you might know of any cranial osteopaths that treat babies at all? I have seen a few online but would love some recommendations if possible? Any thoughts gratefully received!”

Many thanks to the NHM Community for your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers recommend cranial osteopaths for babies

Val said “Bramley Osteopaths are great and do baby cranial”

  • Natasha said “Second this. I took my daughter here.”
  • Helena said “I’ll vouch for Becky Hall too. She worked wonders on one reflux baby and a toddler that wouldn’t sleep.”
  • Stephanie said “Another vote for Bramley”
  • Lowri said “Becky Hall at Bramley Osteopaths – miracle worker!”
  • Nita said “Another vote for Becky Hall at Bramley”
  • Lindsay said “Becky at Bramley is fab. Both of my boys were treated by her, one as a baby and one as a toddler.”

Melanie said “Sally Mathews did my bubba.” https://www.facebook.com/wessexchiropractic/

Laura said “Physical balance in Overton are great.

  • Hayley said “Physical balance in overton”
  • Angela said “We went to Physical Balance in Overton and they were great! I was a little sceptical but very desperate and it worked wonders.”

Leanne said “Kate Rosati (Latham) treated our baby. She’s great! http://www.listening-hands.co.uk/

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NHM Reader Recommendations: Entertainment for a First Birthday Party

An NHM Reader asked “I am looking for entertainment for my daughter’s first birthday party. So something like Baby Sensory or Caterpillar Music. I am currently checking their availability but need to look for back up in case neither can accommodate me. Would appreciate any suggestions.”

Many thanks for the responses from the NHM community, listed below in no particular order:

Tots Play

Tots Play Basingstoke & Hook

Michelle said “Hi, I run Tots Play classes in the area and also do birthday parties, get in touch for more info www.totsplay.co.uk/basingstoke

Jiggly Wrigglers

Jiggy Wrigglers Andover & surrounding villages

Gemma said “I run Jiggy Wrigglers, we are very well established in Andover and heading to Basingstoke so would be happy to come and entertain. If you’d like to know more here’s our page and just pm me.

Dinky Disco

Dinky Disco

Tanya said “Dinky Disco’s”

Cesca said “Dinky disco are fab”

Victoria said “Defo Dinky Discos! Nikki is AMAZING”

Nikki said “Thanks so much for the recommendations Tanya, Cesca and Victoria. Take a peep at our FB page and full party details on our website. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions”

Lucy said “Dinky Disco! I’ve had compliments for months following our 1 year olds birthday party.”

Pop Tots

Pop Tots

Alison said “Pop Tots”

Jollypop Entertainment

Jollypop Entertainment

Grace said “Jollypop Entertainment run ‘jollypoppets’ parties for little ones. Rhythm and Rhyme time type fun!”

Gym Minis

Gym Minis

Emma said “Gym Minis would have a good selection for you and they do parties”

Caterpillar Music

Caterpillar Music

Jaz said “Nicky does an awesome job at Caterpillar Music”

Hartbeeps

Hartbeeps Farnham, Hook and Godalming

Sarah said “I do multi-sensory 1st birthday parties/ I am a franchisee of Hartbeeps. If you look on our website you can see what we are all about”

Baby Sensory

Baby Sensory

Claire said “I’m Claire from Baby Sensory. Please feel free to pm me and I can check dates for you”

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Hampshire Doulas

What is a doula and why would you want one on your birth or postnatal team?

If you heard of something you could take into labour with you that would make you

  • More likely to give birth vaginally with neither ventouse nor forceps nor caesarean
  • Less likely to use pain medications or to have a caesarean birth
  • More likely to be satisfied with your experience
  • More likely to have a shorter labour
  • Less likely to have postpartum depression
  • Your baby could be less likely to have low five-minute Apgar scores (the score used when babies’ health and well-being are assessed at birth and shortly afterwards).

Would you want to give it a try?

According to reviews of research the type of support doulas supply has been shown to do all these things.

You’re probably wondering what exactly do doulas do that can have all these potential benefits? I asked a couple of your local doulas what they bring to your birth team.

Alex and Desiree both work in North Hampshire. As they talk about becoming doulas and what they love about being doulas I hope you will see that the benefits are so wide ranging even for times when that “more likely to” in the research doesn’t turn out to be definitely will. Perhaps we should add to the list, in our experience having a doula on your team will make you more likely to realise how amazing and wonderful you truly are.

Alex with clients
Desiree

How did you hear about doulas or first start thinking it might be for you?

Alex: Unknowingly, I have doulaed for many years. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” sits very closely to me as this is how I started my Doula journey. Then a woman in my village, who I offered support to, asked me if I knew of any doulas in our area. The seed was planted as I supported her and decided to start my Doula journey officially.

Within 2 weeks of deciding to go for it I signed up for my Doula training course and within less than a year I became too busy to continue my long standing medical career. And I love what I do!

Desiree: I heard about Doula’s through my sister as she chose to have a Doula support them through their birth. I was very naive and found it odd and rather ‘hippy’. My sister had the most amazing support from her doula.

Then when was pregnant and began planning my birth I knew I wanted a Doula present and having had a long labour my doula was consistent throughout. It really sealed my desire to be able to offer that same continuity of care, calming presence and support that I received to other women and their partners.

What’s your favourite thing about being a Doula?

Desiree: It’s such a privilege for me to share such an intimate, life changing experience with a woman. Seeing her grow, her strength and her ability to birth regardless of what kind of birth – I truly value that. I love seeing women flourish as they step into motherhood, whether it’s the first time or third time.

Alex: The variety of women and couples I meet and being part of their pregnancy, birth and beyond. I feel extremely privileged being a doula. Seeing women making their own informed choices whatever situation they find themselves in. And then seeing women feeling empowered and those lush newborn baby cuddles at my first postnatal meeting.

What are your top tips for planning a positive birth?

Alex: Gather information, know about your choices, trust your body and your instincts. Never take “no” for an answer unless all resources and options explored. Hire a Doula!

Desiree: Birth is a wonderful journey that can sometimes be smooth and straightforward or it may be windy and long. Birth can be like a picnic – you may have 4 seasons in one day.  As much as we can plan, there are unforeseen events that can happen. Whilst it’s great to have a plan, it’s important to know what your options are and know that you have choices. Having a birth plan in place can help. Being prepared for all eventualities puts you in a far stronger position afterwards to feel you retained some choice and control in what happened. Understanding our hormones and our environment plays a huge part in how our bodies relax and function during the birthing process.

Do you have any top tips for new parents?

Desiree: Listen to yourself. Family and friends have the best intentions when they feel they need to ‘offer’ their advice, however there is so much conflicting advice it becomes an information overload. Do what you feel is best for you and your child. Everything your baby needs you already have.

Alex: Restrict visitors, take your time, enjoy getting to know each other, accept help (meals, house chores, childcare for older siblings). Be aware of the 4th trimester. Be gentle on yourself and never compare yourself with other new mums! Sleep when your baby sleeps during the day, even if it’s a cat nap here and there. Get support from a postnatal Doula and don’t feel afraid to ask for help!

Now you’ve had the chance to get to know a couple of our local doulas a little bit. If you decide to include a doula as part of your birth team you will get to know her really well in the antenatal sessions you have together. More importantly, she will get to know you and how she can support you and the rest of your birth team the best way for you. If you’ve got more questions you might like to check out our frequently asked questions page http://www.hampshiredoulas.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/ and always feel free to get in touch and ask more questions if you don’t find yours is answered there.

hampshiredoulas.co.uk hampshiredoulas@gmail.com facebook.com/hampshiredoulas

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Bubbas and Mamas Children and Baby Sale Saturday 9th June 2018

Why not come to our first ever Bubbas and Mamas Children and Baby Sale, in Church Crookham this Saturday (9th June). We have sold out all the tables for our sale and are really looking forward to welcoming families come and grab some excellent bargains on toys, clothes, maternity wear, books or Moses basket, prams etc.

Entry cost is £1.50 (children go free) starts at 2pm – 3.30pm.

We look forward to seeing you all.

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!