Rosie Duffield, the new Labour MP for Canterbury, is speaking out against Kent County Council’s proposed cuts to the Community Infant Feeding Support Service in the area, which includes breastfeeding support groups and drop-ins.
The Conservative-led Kent County Council have proposed cuts of over £400,000 a year to the service which helps new families adjust to the demands of feeding their babies. Rosie says, ‘I am a mother of two and I know how hard it can be to look after a new-born. Open access clinics that offer feeding services and advice are essential. Mums and dads should be able to drop in for a chat and friendly help. Making clinics only accessible through a professional referral, as Kent County Council are proposing with these terrible cuts, will drastically cut down the number of women using these services.’
Rosie continues, ‘I am a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose the best way to feed her baby and I am sad that the breastfeeding rates in the UK remain some of the lowest in the world. Breastfeeding is good for a child’s health and has health benefits for mums too. KCC’s proposed changes threaten to lower breastfeeding rates in Kent and I am really worried about this.’
Currently there are 17 specialist-led breastfeeding groups across Kent. Rosie says, ‘I have spoken with women who attend the Canterbury one and I know that the session is very busy. It can sometimes overrun by up to two hours, such is the demand. The fact that Kent County Council are proposing reducing services across our county from 17 consultant-led groups a week to just 4, is atrocious. The town of Whitstable, for example, will see all of its breastfeeding support services removed. Women will suffer for KCC’s inability to balance its books; government and council cuts should never be at the expense of the most vulnerable, in this case new-borns and postpartum women – I am horrified by these proposals.’
A questionnaire, asking for feedback on the proposed changes is available by clicking here.