Edinburgh has become the first city in the world to offer the family nurse partnership programme to all eligible first-time mothers aged 19 and under from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Scottish Government has announced.
Since its launch as a pilot programme in NHS Lothian in 2010, the programme has provided support and advice to 660 young women, with an average take-up rate of 81 per cent among the eligible mothers.
Speaking at a reception held at Edinburgh Castle to celebrate its fifth anniversary, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the long-term continuance of the service.
She assured the public that resources and staffing are available for every eligible young mother in the city to be offered a place on the programme.
It was originally developed in Colorado in the US, by Professor David Olds, and titled the Nurse-Family Partnership.
The programme provides intensive, preventative, one-to-one home visiting for young, first-time mothers from early pregnancy until their child reaches the age of two.
Its main objective is to improve the pregnancy experience, child health and development as well as improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family.
In addition, the project is now being replicated across Scotland, with teams already prepared across eight health board areas including Lothian, Tayside, Fife, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley and Lanarkshire.
There are also plans for expansion in the Borders and Grampian over the summer.
Ms Sturgeon described the programme as “one of the best investments we can make as a society – we give young mothers the support they need, we help children to get the best possible start in life” and reduced public spending “further down the line, because we have better health, education and employment outcomes.”
Senior adviser at Nurse Family Partnership International and former deputy chief nursing officer for England, Kate Billingham, congratulated Scotland on behalf of the programme’s founder, Professor David Olds.
“To have the first city in the world to reach 100 per cent coverage for teenage mums – along with high levels of quality – is an amazing achievement,” she said.
“Today we are recognizing the leadership in Scotland, the skilled and dedicated nurses and the parents who have worked hard for their children and their own futures.”
Melanie Johnson, executive nurse director for NHS Lothian also commented: “The service first began as a pilot project in January 2010 in Edinburgh and since then it has gone from strength to strength.
“It has also made a real and lasting impact after it was rolled out across the rest of Lothian and also Scotland,” she said.