Released on: 24 April 2020

NCT is working in partnership with digital health app Peppy and LCGB (Lactation Consultants of Great Britain), to launch a trial of a new digital service to support expectant and new parents through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Woman with baby on phone

The trial is funded through the Techforce19 programme, an initiative set up by NHSX – the innovation arm of the NHS. The purpose is to trial digital solutions to support those who are particularly vulnerable or isolated during this time. 

Pregnant women and their partners, and new parents with a baby under 1 year of age, will be able to access group or one-to-one chat with expert practitioners, plus chat or video support for breastfeeding, sleep and mental wellbeing. 

At this stage, the free support is being offered to 1,000 users over an initial two-week period. If the support proves to be effective, there is the potential for much wider national roll out. This pilot project is one of 18 digital services to have been selected by Techforce19 from over 1,600 applicants, and the only one targeted at supporting pregnancy and parenthood. 

The new digital support package will help to address the increased levels of anxiety and isolation for pregnant women and new parents, who were identified as a vulnerable group by the government in March. NCT has experienced a significant increase in demand for its services and has rapidly adapted to provide online antenatal courses and infant feeding support, as well as regularly updated evidence-based information on COVID-19 on its website. 

Angela McConville, NCT Chief Executive said:

“COVID-19 has turned everyone’s lives upside down and has had a huge impact on pregnant women, their partners and new parents. Becoming a parent can be challenging at the best of times, but the current crisis has led to heightened feelings of anxiety and isolation, and very real concern about the care and support that is available. It is essential that we find new and innovative ways to support women and their young families through this crisis. This funding means that our highly valued information and support will be accessible when and where new parents now need it – in the safety of their homes”.

Expectant and new parents who would like to access the free support from experts on the Peppy app, can register their interest at this link.

About Techforce19

In March, DHSC and MHCLG announced that funding would be available to innovators who can find digital ways to support people who need help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This ‘Techforce19’ challenge aims to support those who are particularly vulnerable or isolated as a result of the outbreak and need help, including people who need mental health support or who have social care needs.

NHSX has been working with partners PUBLIC and the AHSN Network to run the fast-track competition for innovators, creating a pool of ready to go technologies that have the potential to be rapidly scaled regionally and nationally.

Following an assessment process, led by Public and working with the AHSN Network, NHSX and representatives from local authority, care and mental health sectors, 18 companies have been selected and awarded up to £25,000 to take part in a rapid testing phase.

This trial and deployment is a sign of rapid innovation and is set to benefit many thousands of people. 

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors:

Case studies and a spokesperson are available on request.

For further information press@nct.org.uk

Read the announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care here.

Queries about the competition process, funding process or any of the organisations running the competition (DHSC, MHCLG, NHSX, PUBLIC, AHSN Network) should be directed to georgia.unsworth@nhsx.nhs.uk or jenny.songi@nhs.net.

About NCT

NCT is the UK’s largest charity for parents. Each year it supports millions of parents through their First 1,000 Days, offering evidence-based information and trusted practical and emotional support through its website, helpline, a nationwide network of over 300 local branches, antenatal and postnatal classes, breastfeeding counselling and peer support schemes

About Peppy

Peppy provides personalised health support to families going through life’s big transitions, such as becoming a parent, fertility treatment or going through the menopause. The company was founded in 2018 and works with a wide range of employers to provide support to their employees.

About LCGB

LCGB is a registered charity that works to protect and support breastfeeding, in order to improve the health and wellbeing of families across the country through advocacy and by providing expert breastfeeding care. Founded in 1994 to serve as a professional voice for breastfeeding, LCGB also provides advanced education and training for infant feeding specialists. Our members are part of a community of 32,500 International Board Certified Lactation Consultants worldwide, recognised internationally as the gold standard credential in breastfeeding and lactation.

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