Concerns raised as funding for breastfeeding support in Brent is axed

Laura Walzer's baby Ruby wouldn't latch on and was lost without the support of peer workers. Brent C

Laura Walzer's baby Ruby wouldn't latch on and was lost without the support of peer workers. Brent CCG is to cut the service at Northwick Park - Credit: Archant

Parents and campaigners in Brent have launched a petition to stop health services axing breastfeeding support for new mothers arguing it will increase the hospitalisation of babies.

Brent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is slashing all funding for its dedicated breastfeeding support service run from Northwick Park Hospital in Watford Road, Sudbury, from next month.

Laura Walzer, from Willesden Green, became a peer supporter after she had problems following her daughter Ruby’s birth two years ago, who wouldn’t latch on to her.

She said: “If I hadn’t had the level of support I did, I don’t know what I would have done.”

S“Women are going to get bad advice and not the support they need. Rushed midwives, rushed health visitors and rushed GPs may actually put them off continuing if they are struggling with mastitis or their child isn’t latching on like mine did.”

Rosie Woods, chair of Brent and Harrow maternity services liaison committee, called the cuts short-sighted and damaging.

“This cut will lead directly to lower breastfeeding rates which in turn will lead to higher levels of child hospitalisation due to formula related illness, increased risk of ear infection and asthma among other illnesses in children,” she said.

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“It’s saving money now to pay out a lot more later. ”

She added that Northwick Park Hospital was recently awarded a Unicef baby friendly status.

“It’s quite hard to get accreditation for being a hospital which promotes breastfeeding,” she said.

“Part of the reason they got that comes from having those peer supporters on the ward because the midwives simply don’t have time to provide that service.”

A spokeswoman for Brent CCG said: “The NHS in Brent, the local council, and NHS England as the current commissioner of public health services for children aged 0-5 work together to encourage mothers to breastfeed.

“Support is available through a wide range of services – from children’s centres and health visitors to GP practices and maternity services – so, despite this one service coming to an end, help will still be available.

“With support available from other services and an 85 per cent of uptake of breastfeeding by local mums, compared to 75 per cent nationally, Brent CCG and the council agree that limited public funds should be spent elsewhere.”

“If you are a new mum or are expecting a child and want information about breastfeeding, your GP, local hospital maternity service, or health visitor will be able to help.”