MUMS using a breastfeeding support service in Bradford have been sent letters telling them it will stop at the end of August.

Instead the women, who have benefitted from the one-to-one service offered by Eccleshill-clinic based HOTS (Health On The Streets Team), are being directed to their health visitor, GP or children's centre staff to get help.

The letter advising of the change said it followed the Council's decision to decommission HOTS which was part of its budget cuts agreed in February.

For the past eight years, a HOTS worker has been available five mornings a week at the Eccleshill clinic to deal with referrals from midwives and some self-referrals helping new mums with breastfeeding and also carrying out home visits.

Earlier this year a delegation of campaigners handed in a petition urging Bradford Council to rethink plans to axe the service which was formed to bring health services right into the heart of the communities of Eccleshill, Ravenscliffe, Thorpe Edge, Thackley, Idle, Greengates and Fagley.

But Bradford Council’s ruling Labour group went ahead with decommissioning the service, saying it wanted to eliminate duplication.

Councillor Ralph Berry, the Labour group's health spokesman, said the decision was directly due to Government funding cuts.

"The Government has proposed a further 8.5 per cent cut on the public health budget as well as us having to cope with the general reductions so while I understand people have concerns, they should be asking the Government about that," he said

Cathy Woffendin, Bradford District Care Trust's deputy director nursing and specialist services, said: “We are always disappointed if a service we provide cannot continue.

"In the case of Health on the Streets we have worked in partnership with our local authority partners to find new solutions that make sure we can continue to improve health outcomes for local people.

"Breastfeeding support and advice will continue to be provided by health professionals to mums in the Ravenscliffe, Greengates and Thorpe Edge through their named Health Visitor at home and at their local children’s centres.”

A Bradford Council spokesman also stressed that the district's breastfeeding strategy remained a key part of its Every Baby Matters action plan and a mother-to-mother peer support network via the National Childbirth Trust was being created.

"The first group of 12 mothers have just completed their training and will provide support and encouragement to mothers who live in areas like Eccleshill where we know mothers are less likely to breastfeed," the spokesman said.

One of the Bradford support services that will be promoting breastfeeding in the city is Better Start Bradford, a community partnership led by Bradford Trident, which received £49 million from the Big Lottery Fund to help parents give their children the best start in life.

But it will not reach the HOTS area because it is restricted to Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton only.

Its child health specialist Jo Howell said: "We do acknowledge there's a need for breastfeeding and in the spring next year we will be starting a peer support programme as well as drop-in sessions and group meetings but it won't fill the HOTS gap."