Health services for children and families in Waveney to be taken under control of Suffolk County Council

ECCH headquarters at Hamilton House in Lowestoft. Picture: MICK HOWES

ECCH headquarters at Hamilton House in Lowestoft. Picture: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

Health services for children and families in Waveney are to be taken back under control of Suffolk County Council, it can be revealed.

For the last six years East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) has delivered services including the family nurse partnership, which supports young first time mothers, and the health visitor service for families with children up to five years old.

But now, Suffolk County Council will take children's services in Waveney back under its umbrella, bringing it into line with the rest of the county.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the contract with ECCH was due to end in March this year, but was extended to December so options could be explored.

It is understood the service could either go out for procurement or the council could provide the services, and the decision was taken to do the latter.

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One staff member of the 65 affected, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they are bracing themselves for pay decreases and job cuts. But there has not been any suggestion services would not continue.

ECCH's director of health improvement and children's services, Julia Whiting, said: 'Obviously we are disappointed at this decision, both as an organisation and particularly for the staff who show such dedication and enthusiasm in their work to support children and families in the Waveney area.

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'Only a few weeks ago UNICEF re-awarded our children's services with baby friendly full accreditation which is an accolade we have held since 2014 and evidence that our teams provide the highest possible quality of care.

The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen relationships.

Ms Whiting added: 'We will now be working to ensure a smooth transition to new roles for the staff affected.'

Currently EECH also provides breastfeeding support to families across Waveney, as well as running the Big Sky Nursery in Beccles, amongst other services.

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