‘It’s very worrying’ – Mum’s fears amid service cuts to Hitchin baby clinic

Liz Bannister and baby Charlotte

Liz Bannister and baby Charlotte - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin mum of two young children has blasted the decision to cut newborn healthcare provision in the town.

Liz Bannister, who has a six-month-old daughter called Charlotte and a two-year-old son, attends the baby clinic at Bedford Road Health Centre.

Herts County Council – which runs the service on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons – is slashing by more than half the time mums can have their babies’ health monitored, with the Thursday service being scrapped and the Wednesday service shortened.

The council’s website advises new parents to attend classes and activities with their babies, and says that it works with health professionals to get you the support you need.

And the decision to slash class hours has met with concern from many mums and dads, including Liz.

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She told the Comet: “A notice was stapled into my daughter Charlotte’s ‘red book’, suggesting that the Thursday afternoon baby clinic at Bedford Road would be cut, and that the Wednesday morning session would be reduced by half an hour.

“The only other options now are to go to Baldock or Letchworth on two other days of the week – but many new mums do not have access to a car so it’s extremely difficult to attend a clinic other than the now very overcrowded one in Hitchin.

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“The cut is making it very difficult for me to access the main child support service offered in the area.

“The service was already congested and this cut has made it worse. It will deter mothers from ensuring their children get the vital development checks needed at the early stages of childhood.

“As a parent with young children you are always being told it is so important to get your baby checked by health care professionals on a regular basis.

“So to see provision cut is very worrying.”

Herts County Council took the decision to change the way their two ‘Well Baby’ clinics and say they put notices up in the clinic six weeks before any change was made, and families attending were informed the Thursday clinic would close.

Kay Gilmour, head of children’s universal services at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, said: “We need to ensure we are making the best use of our resources available to sustain our support for families in the area.

“Our Thursday clinic had the lower attendance of the two and it was deemed inefficient to keep it running.

“Our Wednesday clinic remains in the Bedford Road Health Centre and runs from 9.30am to 11.30am.

“There are no plans to make any further changes to this. There are also neighbouring baby clinics in Letchworth and Baldock.”

To find out more about where your nearest baby clinic is held, see their website at www.hct.nhs.uk/our-services.

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