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Family Nurse Partnership Programme

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what proportion of Family Nurse Partnership programme staff are health visitors; (306635)

(2) what the estimated total cost is of providing the Family Nurse Partnership scheme; and what estimate has been made of the average cost per family of the scheme;

(3) what his Department’s plans are for expansion of the Family Nurse Partnership.

Of all the family nurses currently employed in Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) sites, 54 per cent. had been in a health visiting post immediately prior to becoming a family nurse and 67 per cent. were currently registered health visitors.

A formative evaluation of implementation in the first 10 FNP sites is being conducted by Birkbeck college, university of London. This will conclude by 2011 and will include an assessment of costs. A report of findings from the second year was published on the Department for Children, Schools and Families research website in September this year, and this suggested that the cost of FNP per client for those completing the programme is around £4,500 over two and a half years.

The FNP is also being evaluated through a randomised controlled trial, led by the South East Wales Trials Unit at the School of Medicine, Cardiff university. This will test the impact of the FNP compared with other services on pregnancy and birth outcomes, on child health and development and on parental life course; and it will also assess costs, through an economic evaluation.

The FNP programme gives us a real opportunity to transform the life chances of some of our most vulnerable children. It has been shown in the United States to have strong and consistent short and long-term benefits for children and parents. Early learning in England suggests that the FNP can be delivered well by our skilled family nurses, that the programme is highly valued by clients, that fathers engage with it well, and that early impacts look promising.

We will be testing FNP in 50 sites across England by January 2010 and over 3,000 clients have enrolled on FNP to date. The Child Health Strategy, published in February 2009, said the Government wished to expand to 70 pilot sites by April 2011. This would allow capacity to deliver FNP to at least 7,000 families. The Child Health Strategy also said that if the research findings are positive we would like to see FNP offered to the most vulnerable first-time young mothers across England over the next decade.