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Jane Bates: A grandma’s grumble on behalf of young families

Money-saving cuts are reducing support for young families, and the authorities need to get their act together, says indignant grandmother Jane Bates

Money-saving cuts are reducing support for young families, and the authorities need to get their act together, says indignant grandmother Jane Bates


Picture: iStock

‘This baby has only been weighed twice since he was born,’ said a friend, speaking about her two-month old grandson. ‘Even then, they kept his clothes on because they didn’t want to wake him up.’

I don’t know what the collective noun is for grandparents, especially those with a medical background. A ‘what’s-going-on’ perhaps? A ‘what’s-going-on’ of grandparents – yep, that just about sums it up.

To say we were bristling with indignation would be like saying Brexit has caused a few problems. We were incandescent. Our new grandchildren live in different areas of the country but the conclusion was the same – that new mothers and young babies are not given the level of support we gave in our time, or that we were given ourselves.

Mothers discharged from hospital hours after traumatic births, postnatal visits few and far between, problems with the availability of baby clinics and accessing routine vaccinations. These are just some of our families’ experiences.

Whatever happened to Safeguarding?

We are not blaming the professionals. We know what the problem is – that services have been pared to the bone to save money – and those who work in the system are struggling. Many of us are still slaving for the NHS under similar circumstances.

But what is to be done? Our children are getting through these difficult early days of parenthood partly because of us – the ‘what’s-going-on’ of grandparents who can spot tongue-tie or a dodgy nappy at 50 yards – along with help from wonderful friends and siblings.

What concerns us is those who have no family or peer support, those living under added stress through poverty and abuse, and with mental health issues. We know from our own experience they are not always the obvious candidates. Whatever happened to Safeguarding?

There is plenty of justified outrage about the care of older people, but what about the ‘cradle’ end of our lives? It’s time the Department of Health and Social Care got its act together.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

 

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