Family Nurse Partnership National Unit welcomes cross-party manifesto that highlights the importance of acting early to enhance the outcomes for children.
Members of Parliament from across eight different parties have thrown their weight behind the re-launch of a key policy commitment to achieving better perinatal mental health and stronger attachment between babies and their parents right from the start. The ‘1001 Critical Days Manifesto’ was originally launched in the last Parliament to persuade all political parties to incorporate these measures into their election manifestos. It was spearheaded by Northamptonshire South MP Andrea Leadsom who originally set up a Parliamentary All Party Group to raise the profile of these crucial early years’ issues and is now Minister of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Now a record number of MPs from all sides of the House have put their names in support and are pressing ministers to adopt it as Government policy across a number of departments led by Health. The main sponsors include former Children’s Minister and Conservative MP Tim Loughton, Shadow Children’s Minister and Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, former Minister for Mental Health Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb and representatives from the SNP, Plaid, SDLP, DUP and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
The 1001 Critical Days Manifesto takes its title from the period from conception to age 2 when a baby’s brain is developing fast and he or she is most likely to form strong bonds of attachment with a primary carer, which will have a lasting impact and certainly set a child up for the best start in life, in school and into adulthood if we get it right.
In a report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group for 1001 Critical Days published earlier in the year, entitled Building Great Britons, the group identified the cost of poor perinatal mental health and child neglect as more than £23bn a year let alone the social cost that ensues. The new manifesto draws attention to a variety of concerning statistics, not least that around 26% of babies (198,000) in the UK are estimated to be living within complex family situation, of heighted risk where there are problems such as substance misuse, mental illness or domestic violence, whilst 36% of serious case reviews involve a baby under the age of one. The best chance to turn this around is during the 1001 critical days.
Ailsa Swarbrick, FNP National Unit Director said:
"FNP welcomes the campaign. It’s vital that a focus on the early years is placed at the heart of the policy making process. Health in pregnancy and the quality of the caregiving babies receive during the first years of life can have a long lasting impact on a child’s future health, happiness, relationships and achievement of their aspirations.
"The trusting relationship family nurses are able to build with young mothers means FNP is well placed to support the first 1001 days of life. Focusing on the critical pregnancy and early years period, FNP aims to improve social mobility and break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage. Society is missing an opportunity if we don't prevent problems before they arise.”