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New partnership launches, the first step towards a new support service for Lancashire families

The new partnership between Lancashire County Council and Virgin Care which launched on Monday 1 April 2019, will see Health Visiting and School Nursing services across Lancashire transformed over the next 3 years but schools, families and other residents are being reassured that services continue to operate through the launch.

More than 400 health visitors, school nurses and other health professionals are part of the new partnership, which will be known as the “Lancashire Healthy Young Person and Family Service”, delivering the three year transformation programme which will give new families and young people access to additional support, free up professionals from their desks to spend more time in the community and mean extra help for the most vulnerable.

Virgin Care and Lancashire County Council have been working with the previous providers of the service – Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – since December to handover the service but like any change it is expected that colleagues will need some time to adapt to the changes in the first few weeks.The new partnership will see most of the key foundations of the new service – such as new ‘hub’ and ‘spoke’ bases for staff based around Preston, Burnley and Lancaster, and new technology to support mobile working – live from the very start.

From this week (1 April) families will need to use a new telephone number to contact the service. Across Lancashire, Health Visitors and School Nurses can be reached on the new number of 0300 247 0040.

Additionally, a small number of baby clinics between until 14 April 2019 have had times and dates changed, to allow colleagues additional time to get used to new their new equipment and software. These changes have already been communicated to families affected in each area.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health and wellbeing for Lancashire County Council, said: “Our health visitors and school nurses play an important role in improving the health of young people and families across Lancashire.

“We will integrate these new, modern services to work more closely with other health services to narrow the gap in health between different communities.”

“We’re pleased to work with Virgin Care to provide 0 to 19 public health services.”

Dawn Matthews-Smith, Managing Director for the Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service, said: “Going live with the service means a huge amount of change for colleagues which we haven’t underestimated. We’re supporting colleagues, as much as possible, with the change process and we’ve reduced the number of clinics we’re running for two weeks as a result. We’re really grateful to all of the hard working and dedicated colleagues who join the new service today for their help so far, and for their patience as we make sure the new service beds in.”

“While the service for families across Lancashire will continue to run throughout the next few weeks, this is of course a big change for colleagues who have joined the new service today and naturally there will be teething problems. We have people across Lancashire to support colleagues as they get used to the new systems and ways of working.”

“This new partnership is all about focusing on what families really need, adding extra support for the most vulnerable and freeing up healthcare professionals to spend more of their time in the community, with families; this will mean less time travelling and being behind a desk. After the transition period is over we’ll set about working with colleagues to deliver that new service.”

Notes for editors

  • 0300 telephone numbers are ‘local call’ numbers defined by Ofcom, treated the same as regional dial codes and are included in ‘free minutes’ calls plans by most providers. There is no premium charge to call the new telephone number.
  • The service will operate from 3 bases in Preston, Burnley and Lancaster and approximately 20 ‘spoke’ sites (from where we will deliver clinics and other parts of the service) from 1 April 2019.
  • In a very small number of cases (two to three locations out of approximately 200), clinics will move to new locations because property used by the previous service is not available for us to use. These locations have already been announced by the Council to be closing and this decision is unrelated to the new service.  Other locations nearby are being used, so every clinic will be replaced – but the majority of contact with families happens in people’s homes.
  • Health Visitors and School Nurses are being issued with brand new iPhones and Windows 10-based laptops from 1 April, as they migrate to more ‘agile’ working which means less time spent travelling and in offices and more time to spend with families and young people.
  • Colleagues who are joining the partnership will need to learn to use their new equipment and systems, so although services will continue this week as usual in the first few weeks colleagues will be allowed extra time to get used to the new systems.
  • Safeguarding Services are also part of the new partnership, and are being led by Terri Crossland, who has run similar services across Lancashire for many years, and an experienced team of safeguarding nurses.
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