The move to bring 0-5 children’s health services into the local authority is timely for Bath and North East Somerset as it coincides with a review of our children’s preventative sector to ensure it fits with local need and demonstrates positive outcomes for children and families. We are also about to consult on our Early Help strategy, which shows a strong local commitment to early intervention.
This has not been an easy period for Local Government and the recent reduction in funding has led us to consider the role of children’s services. Like many other Councils, we have focused our commissioning on targeted services for families with identified needs, rather than the range of universal services which have historically been provided. This has required a closer relationship with health visitors and we are pleased that our health visiting service has moved their office bases to children centres to support integrated working. Multi agency meetings happen in many children centres where health visitors, early years staff and midwives work together to meet the needs of families in the most appropriate way.
Clearly the transition to providing a service at a resident population level has presented the biggest challenge to Local Authorities this year and this is still a complex issue, requiring new partnerships with neighbouring authorities. But, for Bath and North East Somerset, working in this way makes sense as the particular requirements of families are better met with commissioners and staff, responsible for health and social care across an area, developing a strong understanding of local needs. Our current health visitors deliver a service to a good number of families who live outside the Local Authority boundary and we will need to make sure people are carefully placed with a neighbouring health visiting services. We have already made a strong start. The Sirona Care and Health service in Bath and North East Somerset was one of the pilot areas for new 4-5-6 model of health visiting described here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417455/4_5_6_LA_leaflet_ppt.pdf. has allowed us to be at the forefront in delivering services for our families.
Jo Farrar, Chief Executive, Bath and North East Somerset Council