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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Baby Sleep the Night

Having trouble getting your baby / toddler to sleep? Let me help you as I have been there too.

I am currently working towards finalising my certification and am offering a 2 week package which usually would cost £250 for £50 in exchange for an honest review of my service and a testimonial if you’re happy with the results at the end of our time together.

It is worth mentioning that I do not use the ‘ cry it out ‘ method, which many frazzled parents may possibly have tried and found not successful in the past. I use a very gentle approach taught to me by one of the leading baby sleep consultants in the UK which allows you to be there every step of the way to help provide comfort to your little one whilst they learn this new and important skill. I am incredibly passionate about sleep having suffered sleep deprivation with my own children and I know that healthy sleep habits mean healthy happy children.

If you know of anyone who this may help, please pass on my details or share to your entire address book!

www.babysleepthenight.com

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New information evening for Mums making a choice for birth after Caesarean

A new information evening for mums making a choice for birth after Caesarean will be on the second Wednesday of every month at 18.30hrs at alternating maternity sites.

It continues on Wednesday 12th of June at Basingstoke in the Blue room, downstairs in the Sherbourne building.

The purpose is to give consistent advice regarding the options for women having had a caesarean and help them to achieve the birth they would like , either and elective repeat Cs or a VBAC.

For more details, please contact me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com and I will put you in touch with the relevant Consultant Midwife.

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NHM Readers Recommend: Play Cafes and Cafes with Toys

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “Does anyone know of any play cafes, or alternatively cafes that have entertainment/ toys for little children?”

Many thanks for your replies, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Play Cafes and Cafes with Toys

Hook Garden Centre

Tracy said “Hook garden centre has a nice play area and cafe.”

Lottie said “Love the garden centre in hook. “

Kelly-Lauren said “Hook Home & Garden Centre, Come along to my session there! Jiggy Wrigglers Basingstoke & Surrounding Villages

Little Roses Coffee Shop

Andy said “Little Roses on the road to tadley is neat.”

Catherine said “Little Roses at Elm Park Garden Centre have toys upstairs”

Katie said “Little roses at Elm Park garden centre has a little play area upstairs for children. And it’s usually fairly quiet.”

More of the Good Stuff

Catherine also said “ More of the Good Stuff in Dummer have a fenced off area within the tea room full of toys”

Ellie said “More of the good stuff at dummer farm has a lovely area”

Andrea said “More of the good stuff cafe in Dummer.”

Samantha said “More of the Good Stuff , Dummer ….. amazing cake and a secure play area for little ones.”

Active Tots

Emma said “Active Tots is good if your kids are under 5”

Sarah A said “Beware – they have to be under 4 and not higher than a meter. Was turned away by my taller than average just turned 4 year old when I had my 2 year old and 6 month old in tow”

Beggarwood Cafe in the Park

Lottie also said “Cafe in the park in beggarwood has lots of toys”

Andrea also said “Beggarwood community centre.”

Redfields Garden Centre

Lottie also said “Bit further but the treetops cafe at Redfields garden centre in fleet is lovely too”

Sarah S said “Redfields garden centre has a little play area in their treetops cafe upstairs”

Rosie and Bean Play Cafe

Michelle said “Rosie and Bean in fleet is fab!!! Worth messaging their Facebook to book a table as they are very busy in the mornings”

The Overton Coffee Shop

Kate said “The Overton Coffee Shop has children’s books/toys and a little table”

The Tea Bar

Abigail said “The Tea Bar in Basingstoke is a lovely independent coffee shop/cafe. They do all sorts of food and they have loads of toys for toddlers and kids to play with”

Wellington Farm Shop

Ruza said Wellington farm shop has an outside area with a great adventure house, some animals to look at and inside a small selection of toys and books for use.”

Proteus Creation Space

Stephany said “Proteus has a little toy corner”

Lasham Gliding Centre

Michelle also said “On a sunny day, Lasham Gliding Centre has a great play park, cafe/restaurant plus you get to see all the gliders and planes”

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New Class!! – Baby Mindful

Baby Mindful classes are an amazing opportunity for parent and baby to connect and spend time getting to know each other in a calm supportive environment. It’s so easy to be caught in a whirlwind of being busy, and Baby Mindful is an opportunity to leave the to-do list and worries behind, and focus on your baby, and also your needs too – Time to just “be” rather than “do”.

You will also learn tools to help you manage the emotional rollercoaster of parenthood (and indeed life!), that will remain valuable throughout your journey as a parent – the ability to respond rather than react to situations, and be the calm your baby seeks.The classes follow a different theme each week and offer a range of activities to support the natural development of your baby, using activities that will gently stimulate and calm them and support their cognitive, communicative, social, emotional and physical development.

Each class has seven sections with different activities in each – Move, Play, Stretch, Feel, Breathe, Believe and Relax – with benefits for both your baby and you.

Classes are for 0-6 month babies at 10am, and also more action based classes for 6-12 month babies at 11:15am.

Overton Community Centre, Overton, RG25 3HB
https://www.facebook.com/babymindfulwithlaura/

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Review 2019: Thula Mama, Relax and sing whilst enjoying the soothing therapy of salt!

Review 2019: Thula Mama

Thula Mama is a unique and relaxing activity where mums with babies can enjoy singing together in a group whilst cuddling their babies and generally having a lovely time.  There are groups all over the country, but Basingstoke’s offering stands out from the rest in its venue – The Salt Lounge is Basingstoke’s first salt therapy space and is conveniently located close to Festival Place just off Wote street.  It offers treatments that can help alleviate breathing difficulties such as asthma as well as soothing skin conditions such as eczema.

At my first session it was a small enough group to not feel overwhelmed.  Rebecca, who organises it, was super friendly and we were offered tea and biscuits in lovely reusable mugs with lids (to prevent accidents from little grabbing hands!).  We relaxed in the waiting area and chatted for a while, before heading into the therapy room for our singing session.

The therapy room is a soothing white cave of tranquility.  There are comfortable reclining chairs with low arms and footstools, perfect for feeding baby.  You can choose to go barefoot, or with protection over your shoes, and the salt on the floor feels lovely between your toes.  There are mats and toys laid out on the floor for the babies to play, and the lighting is slightly dimmed for relaxation.

The songs at Thula Mama are simple, easy to learn traditional songs from around the world.  The words are written on a flip chart and the tunes can be picked up after hearing the song once.  We sang each through several times, adding in harmonies as we went, and I felt a real sense of achievement from learning some lovely-sounding music and enjoying singing it in less than 5 minutes!  There are no auditions, and no worrying about having any previous experience of singing – it’s all about joining in and having fun with other mums!

Facilities-wise the venue has everything you need – there are lockers for you to leave valuables if you wish, prams can be left in the waiting area where there is always a member of staff present, and the disabled toilet has a changing table too.  There are a couple of steps into the building, but there is always someone to help get prams in if needed.

I left my first session feeling both physically and emotionally refreshed.  My little one and I both had colds at the time, and I’m sure the salt therapy helped us feel better, and it was such a nice change to do something calming and relaxing with babies (although we are all for the sensory play and bright colours and loud noises of other baby groups too!).  I have since been back every week for the past couple of months and treat it as my weekly retreat!

I give Thula Mama 5 out of 5!  At £10 per week it’s really reasonable, especially considering you get a salt therapy session for free!  The first session is free for you to come along and try, so what are you waiting for?  Get in touch on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/ThulaMamaBasingstoke

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NHM Readers Recommend: Family Yoga Classes

An NHM Reader recently asked “I need some help if possible, I have an 8 year old who wants to do a yoga class with me. Do you know any that take children of this age in a joint class. I’ve found some that are for kids but no parents allowed or some for adults but no children under 16.”

Thank you for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Family Yoga Classes

Sue said “I do yoga with my 10yr old, but it’s at home using the 30 day Yoga on Prime. It’s only 20 minutes and it’s great”

Vickie said “We do yoga at home but it’s on YouTube there’s a woman who has her own channel. It’s fab as she does it along to stories! Both my 5 & 9 yo love it and it’s a good wind-down before bed…It’s such a clever idea because it keeps them engaged too!”

Jo S replied “Yes we do this too…cosmic yoga”

Becca said “Nat runs fab classes The Little Yoga Company

Katie replied “I also recommend Nat”

Vicky said “Young yogis Gina at chineham village hall saturdays”

Ruza said “Recommend Young Yogis with Gina at Chineham village hall Saturday mornings. Very flexible and will let parents and children do this together.”

Kath replied “I run Relax Kids Basingstoke and at some point will be adding children/family yoga to my offering but it won’t be for a while”

Sarah said “Karma Kidz Yoga Absolutely brilliant family classes – but in Farnham, so might be too far for you.”

Hana said “There is a class in Chute House in town centre every Sunday. Suitable for ages 4+”

Claire said “loubedfordyoga was going to run childrens classes but didn’t have enough uptake last year. Highly recommended as a teacher for beginners. Based in Basingstoke too”

Jo R said “Sue Cordery did a class just before Xmas and may do more? We really enjoyed it.”

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Junior and Family Classes at Basingstoke Sports Centre

Junior Bootcamp at Basingstoke Sports Centre Thursdays and Fridays 4.25-5.25pm (this half term started last Thur and Fri and is £22.80 for the six weeks, there are still spaces). Next half terms starts 25th&26th April.

Mini Movers at Basingstoke Sports Centre Thursdays 11.15-11.45am (pre-school movement class), this half term is 6 weeks long and is £12 for the course, (works out at £2 a class).

Family Pedal at Basingstoke Sports Centre Saturdays 12.10-12.40pm. Spin class for the whole family. Also £12 for 6 weeks this half term (spaces left).

For more info: https://www.mybst.org/basingstoke

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 onTwitterFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

Baby Mindful – Free Taster Sessions!

Free taster sessions available with spaces on Monday 11th and Monday 18th March, 10.30am in Overton Community Centre

Baby Mindful classes are an amazing opportunity for parent and baby to connect and spend time getting to know each other in a calm supportive environment. It’s so easy to be caught in a whirlwind of being busy, and Baby Mindful is an opportunity to leave the to-do list and worries behind, and focus on your baby, and also your needs too – Time to just “be” rather than “do”.

You will also learn tools to help you manage the emotional rollercoaster of parenthood (and indeed life!), that will remain valuable throughout your journey as a parent – the ability to respond rather than react to situations, and be the calm your baby seeks.

The classes follow a different theme each week and offer a range of activities to support the natural development of your baby, using activities that will gently stimulate and calm them and support their cognitive, communicative, social, emotional and physical development.

Each class has seven sections with different activities in each – Move, Play, Stretch, Feel, Breathe, Believe and Relax – with benefits for both your baby and you.

Weekly classes will be starting in Overton after Easter, with some taster sessions coming soon. I can also visit your home for 1:1 or family sessions, or for a session with your own group of friends, such as a NCT group.

For more info: https://www.facebook.com/babymindfulwithlaura/

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Solo Mia Fashion Show in aid of The Pink Place Cancer Charity

Tickets on sale now £10 in advance or £12.50 on the door, for more info and sales email: events@thepinkplace.org.uk or call 07899 970 841.

On: Thursday 7th March 2019

At: The Apollo Hotel, Basingstoke, RG22 9NU

Browsing from 6.30, Fashion show approx. 7.30 tickets include a glass of bubbly! all proceeds to The Pink Place Cancer Charity.

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 ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!