North Staffs Green Party today announced its support for the campaign to protect Stoke-on-Trent Infant Feeding Team (IFT) led by Jo Haywood and Antonia Dykes.
The IFT could see its funding cut dramatically from 1st September, this would result in the axing of jobs and clinics and the closure of the 24 hour helpline run by the team.
The service is delivered by the NHS and is funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
Currently just 56% of women in Stoke-on-Trent breastfed their babies compared to a national average of 80%. This has serious consequences for the health and development of local children, something the team was set up to address.
North Staffs Green Party Campaigns Coordinator Adam Colclough said: “ Since it was set up the IFT has done magnificent work to promote breastfeeding and improve the health and life chances of children across the city, that good work is being threatened by these cuts.”
He added that: “ As another round of spending cuts imposed by central government loom we recognise that the council has to make some tough decisions. Spending will inevitably have to be cut in some areas, but the decisions regarding where and by how much should be taken on a basis of doing the least possible harm and protecting vital services.”
The Green Party fought the 2015 general election on a manifesto committing it to taking action to bring an end to austerity in the NHS. This included pledging to increase funding by £12 billion to help improve mental health care and bring back NHS dentistry services. The party also pledged to end market based commissioning and procurement and making the way the NHS is run more transparent and patient friendly.
The Green Party also gave a manifesto commitment to ensure the NHS gave special attention to the well-being of children during the vital first 1001 days of their lives, from conception to the age of two.
The party was, the Campaign Coordinator said, “committed to ensuring the young people who will be the future of our country get the best start in life possible”, he added that “ supporting the people who work for and use the IFT is one way in which we can put the principles that make use different as a party into action.”
He called on the council to “rethink its priorities regarding spending cuts, something the last administration failed to do with devastating consequences for vital public services.”