I’ve been reading with amused interest the Tory proposals to provide baby nurses for all new mums. It comes ahead of tomorrow’s Childhood Report commissioned by the Conservatives.
They would like to see midwives helping out in the homes of new mums, giving them support with the baby and also, if they are to model their plans on the Dutch scheme (kraamzorg), providing practical help such as tending to older siblings, cooking, shopping and suchlike. The Tories say it will bring about better social equality and that all children should get support rather than just the wealthy who can afford to hire help but I’m not so sure that the one week of home-help they are proposing will radically change much in the long-term.
I had to smile at the Tories attempt to actually care about inequalities when everybody knows they traditionally bat for the privileged. No matter how compassionate their outer face is, the hard facts are that their policies always benefit the wealthy first.
But in all fairness, I think it’s a good idea to offer this kind of help to disadvantaged families should they want and need it because not everybody has the luxury of having the wider family (grandparents etc.) around and let’s face it, when a new baby comes along, an extra pair of hands is a huge help. But it will be an added expense to an already burdened NHS. Of course the Tories will say they can budget for these NHS one-week super-nannies and still give us large tax-cuts. It’s not the first time they’ve promised to move mountains from the safe position of shadow cabinet.
Well the Tories had better be prepared to create a new health-care role that has a lower-than-midwife status because I can’t possibly imagine existing midwives agreeing to become nanny and au-pair to these families. I know midwives. There is a lot of professional snobbery among the nursing and midwifery ranks. Midwives have to complete years of intensive training and I can’t imagine there would be many of them who would be happy to be told they have to include cooking and cleaning in their midwifery duties.
Anyway, isn’t Grandma the New Nanny?