Bromley parents were left shocked on 2 October when they turned up to their local health visitor drop in baby clinics only to find them closed without warning. The service had previously been run by Bromley Healthcare as part of the health visiting services but these services were moved to Oxleas trust on 1 October after the contract had quietly been put out to tender by the Council earlier this year.
The “drop in” baby clinics have been reduced by 60% since 2014 when 18 such clinics a week were run across the Borough; that was reduced to 11 clinics in 2015 and is now down to just 7 clinics a week with the loss of popular clinics at the Beckenham Beacon and The Willows. There has been no public or user consultation or communication about these changes to much used services.
One service user commented: “Shocked by the lack of locations for HV services… with a new baby the last thing you want to do is travel a long way for check ups...we recently lost the Addington Road location and now the beacon!...[this is] just isolating the community by discouraging mums from attending regular check ups…“ and another said: “I am shocked by the blatant disregard for the community as well as the lack of communication around this topic”.
Bromley Lib Dems are appalled by the poor handling of this transition between service providers and the cutting of much needed services without any warning or public consultation. We asked the Council about these cuts at a meeting on 17 October and the answers revealed a shocking lack of oversight and understanding of these changes; we were told by Cllr Fortune (portfolio holder for Education, Children and Families) that “there has been no reduction in service” which is patently untrue and that the Council had “consulted users of the service through Healthwatch Bromley” something which Healthwatch Bromley denies.
Bromley’s young families deserve better! We will continue to campaign for Oxleas to properly consult with service users on these changes and increase the number and spread of locations of the drop in clinics.
UPDATE: It seems that the efforts of local campaigners is paying off - as of 1 December an additional Clinic has been added at the Crown Medical Centre on a Thursday afternoon, however please note that it is “self weigh”, and an additional venue and session has also now been added in Beckenham although it replaces only one of the 2 lost clinics at the Beacon. The handling of these changes has been appalling and we will continue to campaign for proper service user consultation to ensure local need is met.
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