A service giving specialist advice and support to breastfeeding mothers will be forced to close after its funding was cut.

The Brent Breastfeeding Team provides expert advice and support to new mothers across Harrow and Brent, but now faces closure after funding has been cut.

The service, which has been running for four years at the Wembley Centre for Health and Care, aims to advise, help and support breastfeeding mothers from newborn to weaning stages with feeding problems and also runs a helpline.

Consisting of eight breastfeeding specialists, one breastfeeding volunteer and two lactation consultants, the team covers 11 baby clinics each week and supports the maternity services at both Northwick Park Hospital and Central Middlesex hospital.

But all work will now cease from March 31, as Brent Clinical Commissioning Group and Brent Public Health are no longer funding the service, leaving Northwick Park hospital unable to retain its UNICEF Baby Friendly hospital accreditation.

Team member Shruti Maru said: “This service is a fundamental part of the borough and will have an enormous impact on the whole community from secure attachments of families to A&E admissions, acute and chronic illness.

“In Harrow, many of the mums will still be able to get support from volunteer services but in Brent they will be left with nothing. They will only get seen twice by their midwife after birth so will have to try to see health visitors, who are mostly too busy to give this kind of advice.

“It is just a great shame that the clinical care governance and public health team no longer want the service to continue due to funding.”

Brent has seen a consistent and steady increase in breastfeeding from 2009 to 2014, remaining well above the London average throughout the period.

A spokesperson for Brent CCG said: "The NHS in Brent, the local council, and NHS England as the current commissioner of public health services for children aged 0-5 work together to encourage mothers to breastfeed.

"Support is available through a wide range of services – from children’s centres and health visitors to GP practices and maternity services – so, despite this one service coming to an end, help will still be available.
"With support available from other services and an 85 per cent of uptake of breastfeeding by local mums – compared to 75 per cent nationally – Brent CCG and the council agree that limited public funds should be spent elsewhere. 
"If you are a new mum or are expecting a child and want information about breastfeeding, your GP, local hospital maternity service, or health visitor will be able to help."

The team now has an opportunity to show its opposition and make its case for dedicated breastfeeding support to be recommissioned at a Brent CCG governing body meeting.

Team members will put forward questions and testimonials from services users to the board at the meeting at the Wembley Centre on March 25 from 2pm.