Kent County Council withdrawn a consultation on breastfeeding services – but only as a temporary measure.
The consultation, launched on July 18, will now be reviewed and relaunched in September after KCC bosses admitted it had caused confusion.
The plan had been to remove funding from the current provider, PS Breastfeeding CIC, and have services dealt with by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) instead.
The move, planned to begin from January 1, 2018, would save KCC of £404,000 a year.
The proposals caused a backlash with a petition raised in protest and breastfeeding group mentors across the county launching campaigns.
Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter said: “This year, the health visiting service has seen an investment of £21.85million. By almost doubling the number of health visitors through this investment, we now have the capacity to reshape the health visiting service alongside enhanced breast feeding support.
“Kent County Council is determined to deliver a comprehensive breast feeding support service in the future. We will be carrying out pre-consultation meetings in early September with those mothers and other key stakeholders who are currently expressing concern.
“All feedback received so far will be taken into account when the infant feeding proposals go out to consultation again next month.
“Kent County Council is totally committed to supporting new mothers to breastfeed. The increased number of Health Visitors means that 95% of new mums now receive their new birth visit as required.
“We are determined to deliver an enhanced breast feeding advice service and are prepared to take extra time in rewording the consultation document to make clear our intentions clear and set out our proposals with absolute clarity.”
The picture now
Breastfeeding support, and information regarding formula feeding, is currently offered to all parents through the health visiting contacts such as antenatal, new birth visit and 6-8 week contact, as well as within community based drop- in sessions.
Those who need extra support can be signposted to the Community Infant Feeding support provided by PS Breastfeeding CIC. The service is open access, so women can also refer themselves.
PS Breastfeeding CIC also provides the Kent Baby Matters website which has a searchable website for clinics and drop-in sessions across Kent and runs social media accounts.
The change KCC was proposing would bring PS Breastfeeding CIC services inhouse – through those already working as health visitors.