Tuesday 20 October 2015

 

Health visiting services are to be the responsibility of the council from this month as part of a package of changes to make sure children across the city get the best start in life.

NHS England has this month (October) transferred commissioning of public health services for children nationally between the ages of 0-5 to local authorities, including the health visiting service.

Now in a first Sheffield City Council and the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (SCCG) have combined forces to work with and support families during the crucial early years of a child’s life, including making sure these new changes are well embedded.

The plan, called Sheffield’s Best Start Strategy – which launches today (October 20th) – has been developed with key partners and builds on existing relationships with schools, health, private, voluntary, community and faith sectors, parents and carers to tackle inequalities and respond to the changing needs of families and communities in the city.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said: “Our big ambition is that every child, young person and family in Sheffield achieves their full potential and we know from research that a great start in life for all is one of the key ways to success.

“Children’s experiences in the very earliest years from conception through to age five make a significant difference to their lifelong health, wellbeing and life chances. But the experiences and outcomes for local people sadly can be very different. We now have a great chance with this Best Start strategy to cut through this and build strong communities where families benefit from good quality, responsive early years’ services. But this can only be achieved by services developing active and vibrant partnerships to promote innovative practice and fully engage families, it’s great to have the Health Visitors as part of our team – their skills and experience will help to enhance our Best Start Strategy.”

Health visiting services will play a key role in helping to drive delivery of the Best Start strategy through their leadership of the Healthy Child Programme, which provides families with a range of support including screening, immunisation, health and development reviews, supplemented by advice around health, wellbeing and parenting.

Dr Tim Moorhead, Sheffield GP and Chair of NHS Sheffield CCG added: “Similar to the rest of the country Sheffield has inequalities in early learning, early achievement and health and wellbeing which have led to a gap in the achievement of children from disadvantaged homes compared to those from more advantaged backgrounds. As part of this strategy we want to improve early years services for all young children and their families and empower parents and carers to provide a healthy, stable and nurturing family environment in order to give every child across the city the best start in life. We look forward to working with the Council to deliver what we set out in the strategy and to work towards making sure services are improved and more accessible to the parents and children that need them.”

One of the benefits of council commissioning health visitor services is that it offers opportunities to link this work with other related services, such as housing and early year’s education providers. This in turn will provide a more cost effective and well managed support built around individual needs, which will help improve public health outcomes.

“Every child is entitled to the best possible start in life and health visitors play an essential role in achieving this,” added Coun Drayton. “Health visitors have a profound impact on the lifelong health and wellbeing of young children and their families.

“We know that providing the right support at the earliest opportunity not only makes sense for children and families but also makes economic sense.”

She added there are 33,600 children under the age of five-years-old in Sheffield. The city’s vision is that every one of these children will be happy, healthy, safe and strong, as well as being inspired and enabled to reach their potential so that they can be ready for school and for life.

The Best Start Strategy will also build on the improvements already being achieved in Foundation Stage to increase the average attainment of pupils in the lowest 20 percent. This is being done through high quality early learning provision and effective and consistent transition arrangements in schools and the private sector.

 

ENDS

 

 

 

 

For more information please contact Emma Hollingworth, Communications, on 0114 205 3546 or 07710 737905. Email emma.hollingworth@sheffield.gov.uk