The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead's lead member for adult social care, children services, health, and mental health, councillor Stuart Carroll, writes:

A vital service to local residents, particularly newborn, children and carers is the Health Visiting Service. I very much recognise the importance of this service and would like to explain in a little more detail what the proposed changes, as detailed in our council budget, will look like for families to reassure all residents.

The five mandated contacts we have within this service will continue to be undertaken by staff who are trained and proficient in delivering these contacts. This is a vital point and a critical imperative.

Currently, all families are offered a new birth contact and a full family health needs assessment by a qualified Health Visitor.  This will continue to be the case, and based on this assessment and the level of need identified, it is proposed that in the future the remaining contacts will be delivered by a member of the team, either a Staff Nurse or a Nursery Nurse, depending on the need and level of service required. 

This will be overseen by the Health Visitor; for example, if a parent has a history of postnatal depression, then the Health Visitor will follow up and ensure that the correct support is put in place.

It is acknowledged that families' needs can change and the level of service provided can be altered depending on a family's changing needs. For example, if a parent is identified as needing more specialist support, i.e. at a 2 year review, then the Health Visitor will lead on this support.

Currently, our most vulnerable children and families, i.e. those involved with statutory Social Care, or Children in Care will receive a targeted Health Visiting Service and this will continue. 

The Health Visiting Service will be integrated into our new Family Hub Service, meaning that children and their families will have access to a wide range of Early Help Services, depending on their identified need.

The intention is to improve the offering and to absolutely further our steadfast commitment to enhancing early life chances and ensure every child and parent gets the support they need.

Being targeted and ensuring there is wrap around support within an integrated service will help deliver better outcomes and a more focused service offering. The integrated family hub model has been recommended by the National Children’s Commissioner as part of independent findings; an All Party Parliamentary Group that produced a cross-party report supporting this approach, and also wider expert evidence across the children services sector.

As a council, we firmly believe in following the evidence and data to best deliver transformations to improve outcomes for residents but also to seek the most cost-effective options for the rate payer. This transformation, following diligent and assiduous review by council officers, offers exactly this opportunity.

I therefore want to reassure all residents that we are committed to maintaining the integrity of this hugely important service, but we also want the service to be as efficient as it can be to ensure it is sustainable and highly effective in the future.