More help for disadvantaged mothers

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Media captionHealth Minister Dr Dan Poulter: "Supporting the most vulnerable mothers... pays dividends"

More support is to be provided to disadvantaged young mothers in England, ministers have announced.

The Family Nurse partnership scheme sees nurses or midwives regularly visit first-time mothers under the age of 20 until their baby is two years old.

The support is already being provided to 11,000 families, but will now be extended by 5,000 by 2015.

But nurse leaders said it needed to be accompanied by investment in other areas of nursing.

Under the partnerships, which are also used in Scotland, nurses help prospective mothers and fathers prepare for labour, offer advice on looking after babies and toddlers and help parents plan for the future.

US studies have shown that the partnerships reduce the rates of child abuse, A&E attendances, smoking and criminal offences.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "Family Nurse partnerships play a major role in supporting children in some of the most disadvantaged circumstances to have the very best start in life.

"Every child should have the opportunity to lead a healthy and fulfilling life," he added.

'Greater investment'

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the charity NCT, added: "Parents have different needs and it is easy for problems and worries to be missed.

"Having a specially trained family nurse will give vulnerable families the support they need during the first 1,000 days, giving children the best possible start in life."

But Royal College of Nursing general secretary Peter Carter said: "We would like to see this investment continued beyond 2015, supported by greater investment in school nursing, community children's nursing and health visiting.

"This excellent scheme should be part of an integrated system which can work to educate and support families within their local communities."

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