THE NHS has been accused of 'failing families' after scrapping numerous drop-in clinics for parents in Basingstoke.

A campaign has been launched by a Basingstoke mum after Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust announced a new timetable for its child health advice clinics, which includes getting rid of all drop-in clinics from Tuesday to Thursday.

Louise, who runs North Hants Mum, a website with information for local parents, is encouraging people to campaign against the changes, which she believes is another way 'local families are being repeatedly let down.'

The mother-of-one hopes other angry parents will write to Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, MP Maria Miller and their local councillor about the importance of the clinics for new parents to gain support, as well as posting on social media using #failingfamilies.

She said: “I understand that we are living in times of austerity but why is it that families, especially mums and young children, are targeted with any cuts first?”

Others have also expressed concerns over the changes, which leave just two drop-in sessions a week in Basingstoke – on Monday at The Ridgeway Centre in Buckskin and Friday at The Discovery Centre in Festival Place - with the others accessible by appointment only.

The clinics are used by parents to weigh their baby and access information and support from health visitors on a range of issues such as breastfeeding and postnatal depression.

Michelle Green, a mother-of-two from Brighton Hill, said: “It was my vital lifeline.”

However, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust said the changes were not a cost-saving scheme.

Ginny Taylor, head of children and family services, apologised for any 'inconvenience' to parents as a result of the new timetable, adding: “We listen to the feedback of parents and adapt our services to meet their changing preferences. We made the decision to change the frequency of these clinics to ensure parents are able to access our services in a number of ways.”

These include one-to-one appointments at home and telephone conversations with a health visitor, access to any child health clinic across Hampshire, and a text messaging service.

Maria Miller MP said: “I know how important it is to be able to get expert help and support when you have a young baby and I very much support the hospital for looking at new and effectively ways to do that and to reach parents with the information they need.

“Health visitors continue to have a central role. But healthcare professionals also need to find new ways to communicate with parents too, like ChatHealth which is a Health Visitor led texting service and Ready Steady Mums which is a walking group where mums can meet other mums with similar experiences and build those vital local support networks.

“Parents can still need to be able to meet and talk to the health visiting service and they can still do that in a number of different ways including home visiting, appointments (some of these bookable) at clinics, and on the phone.”