We welcome this piece of research and its focus on peer support, which from our experience over the past 20 years, we know to be a highly valued and effective intervention, greatly appreciated by mothers and families.
The trend identified in the paper of underfunded and overstretched schemes is consistent with our experience of delivering peer support via commissioned services in local authorities. The paper highlights the challenging context within which peer supporters work, alongside strained health care systems in disadvantaged communities.
Many schemes are experiencing funding cuts and reductions, most dramatically felt in Blackpool, where our award winning and highly regarded BfN Star Buddies peer support project has recently been decomissioned. With further budget constraints in other areas, we fear even fewer families will be able to access good quality breastfeeding peer support in the future, despite research such as this which demonstrates the excellent value this kind of service can deliver.
Click here to read a Guardian article about this study.
Dr Aimee Grant, a social scientist at Cardiff University and lead author of the new research, said:
“Our audit of UK peer support services shows that there is inequality in service provision, meaning that not all mothers are able to access peer support in their local community. This is contrary to NICE and World Health Organization guidance, which recommends peer support as one aspect of support required to support breastfeeding mothers.”