|Joined-up care in early years|
From Thursday (October 1) the commissioning of key services, including health visitors – registered nurses or midwives who lead & deliver health services for children – and family nurses, who provide services such as intensive support for young mums, has switched to local authorities from the NHS. For councils, this is the ‘final piece of the jigsaw' after public health responsibilities transferred to them in April 2013.
The Local Government Association, which represents over 370 councils in England & Wales and has campaigned for the 0-5 transfer, says the momentous move will ensure councils are responsible for health ‘from the cradle to the grave’. A more holistic, joined-up approach to healthcare, it will not just be about clinical care but will provide better access to a range of services, including housing, benefits, employment & leisure, which are inherently linked to healthy living.
In preparation for the transfer, councils and school nurses have been working together to co-ordinate & deliver public health interventions for school-aged children. This includes reducing childhood obesity, under-18 conception rates and the prevalence of chlamydia; and the management of mental health disorders.