Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust have developed a consistent approach to information sharing through an agreed protocol and consent procedure with East Lancashire Hospital Trust, Lancashire County Council and voluntary providers of children’s centres. Live birth data is transferred on a monthly basis to the Local Authority from where it is distributed to the Centres.
In addition, during pregnancy, there is an Early Notification system for engaging families with their children’s centre at the earliest opportunity. Midwives routinely ask pregnant women for consent to share their details with children’s centres. The children’s centres then make contact to offer whatever support is needed, for example helping to sort out housing problems before the baby is born. There are processes in place to minimise the risk of centres contacting a family who has lost a baby or where contact would be inappropriate.
From ‘Bump to Birth and Beyond’ is a standardised six week ante-natal programme, delivered by children’s centres with input from health visitors and midwives.
The impact of this coherent strategy to develop health through children’s centres is demonstrated by Ofsted judgments for the health outcomes, which are well above the national averages.
Developing protocols for sharing information was not without its challenges. The protocol took over a year to set up. Changes in personnel meant key people with knowledge about the aims and purpose of the work were lost. This resulted in aspects of the work being revisited and renegotiated. Strong leadership and clear succession planning are important to achieving a robust agreement that is locally implemented.