The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) National Unit leads national delivery of the FNP programme and supports local organisations with implementation. It is commissioned to do this by the Department of Health and Public Health England who hold the license for the delivery of FNP in England.

The FNP National Unit’s role includes:

  • Providing strategic direction and working with national partners
  • Supporting local and national quality improvement
  • Leading adaptations to the programme so it remains relevant to the UK social context and reflects developing knowledge and evidence
  • Providing a learning programme and clinical guidance to supervisors and family nurses
  • Advising on programme setup in local areas
  • Overseeing research and development
  • Developing related products that help improve outcomes for children, focusing specifically on pregnancy and the early years.

The National Unit also provides a number of these services to the Scottish Government, NHS Education Scotland, the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland and Norway, who are currently implementing the FNP programme.

Service development

Every FNP site has a dedicated member of the National Unit, a Service Development Lead (SDL), to support and guide local teams, leaders and stakeholders. SDLs work with each site from the beginning to support the planning and preparation for programme implementation. At the outset this involves:

  • Gaining strategic commitment to the deliver of the FNP programme and its sustainability from local authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Working with commissioners to agree a process, confirm service specification, choose a provider and agree a budget
  • Identifying a project manager to lead local strategy and implementation for the FNP programme
  • Setting up a multi-agency FNP Advisory Board, responsibly for local governance
  • Shaping and managing an implementation plan.
Successful programme delivery

Crucial factors to deliver the FNP Programme successfully are:

  • Commitment from all stakeholders and genuine desire to see the FNP succeed
  • Strong local leadership for the programme
  • Good preparation with dedicated support.

Each SDL continues to work with each site to deliver the FNP programme in order to constantly improve its quality. The National Unit is committed to the ongoing learning from and with sites in order to develop the programme nationally and to constantly improve the quality of delivery and outcomes for families.

Key members of the National Unit

Ailsa Swarbrick, National Unit Director

Ailsa has led the FNP National Unit since 2012, during which time the Unit has moved from the Department of Health to a consortium led by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the Dartington Social Research Unit and Impetus-PEF.  She joined the Unit in 2008, impressed by the powerful impact FNP can have on outcomes for vulnerable families.  Before that she worked in civil service policy roles, focusing on children’s issues, addressing inequalities and policy implementation.  Her early career was in the travel industry.

Steve Clarke, Head of Service Development

Steve joined the FNP National unit in February 2015 from the Department of Health (DH), where he was Deputy Director for Mental Health Policy and Strategy. He held other roles within DH including lead on early years, military and veterans’ health and commissioning policy. He was a Specialist Adviser to the Health Select Committee of the House of Commons in the last Parliament and led the work of the Centre for Mental Health on acute mental health care for a number of years. A mental health nurse by background, Steve has worked in, led, developed and researched a range of health and social care services.

Ruth Rothman, Head of Clinical Implementation and Learning

Ruth has worked as nurse for most of her professional career, starting first as a general nurse before moving on to work in mental health. During this time, her main focus was the mental health of mothers and babies, and she helped set up a number of dedicated services, as well as teaching and supporting other professionals. Before Ruth began working in the National Unit in 2008, she was a Family Nurse Supervisor for a site in South East Essex. She then moved to the Unit as an Educator, was promoted to Education Manager in 2010 and in July 2015, took on the role of Head of Clinical Implementation and Learning.

Contact the National Unit

You can write to the National Unit on: 

The Family Nurse Partnership National Unit 
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
The Tavistock Centre
120 Belsize Park
Greater London

For general enquiries, please email:, or call: 020 8938 2676. 

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