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Being a ‘fantastic’ Health Visitor in Birmingham!

22nd February 2016

In July 2015, NHS England approached Birmingham Community Health Care NHS Trust looking for examples of where clients had received all five key visits from the same health visitor. I had been able to achieve this with a few clients but Nicky Byrne immediately sprung to mind. Nicky was happy to complete a questionnaire, and then followed it up with an article ‘My Fantastic Health Visitor’ which was posted on the iHV Voices blog in January 2016.

This was a lovely, surprise! Imagine me at home one evening when my smart phone went into total meltdown, this even included a retweet from Sarah Cowley and, to be honest, it all felt a little surreal. Anyone involved with service delivery will agree that we need to respond to criticism and complaints with urgency but we don’t celebrate our success enough, and this was one of those moments where we could celebrate our achievements.

I had already used Nicky’s feedback as a piece of client-related feedback for my Revalidation Portfolio and had reflected upon how I had achieved this continuity of care. Firstly, Nicky was a pleasure to work with and our reciprocal relationship enabled me to support her around several issues relating to the six high impact measures. I was able to support her to exclusively breastfeed both of her children, and also supported her parenting around school readiness, and I was able to signpost her to the most appropriate support when her father died suddenly. It has been a real pleasure watching her skills as a parent develop, and her children are an absolute credit to her. Playing only a small but significant part in this has been immensely satisfying for me professionally and personally.

The Health Visitor Implementation Plan was an unprecedented investment in Health Visiting and, in Birmingham, our achievements were enormous with huge caseloads of up to 800 children per whole time equivalent being reduced to around 325. This has meant significantly increased staffing figures and we have really made enormous progress in prioritising the five key visits utilising the 4-5-6 Model. This leaves us in a really strong position as we prepare for our new commissioning arrangements with the Local Authority.

I am not sure I am really ‘fantastic’ but I work with many ‘fantastic’ colleagues who, like me, are totally committed to health visiting and the delivery of a quality child-focused service. Actually being a health visitor in Birmingham is certainly ‘fantastic’ despite some of the challenges we face on a daily basis, and I am excited that I can now be involved in influencing our future service provision and really impacting positively on the health and wellbeing of children in Birmingham.

From the left: Nicky Byrne (mum), Penny Dougan (health visitor), film maker that BCHC are using to make a film about Health Visiting which includes Nicky.

From the left: Nicky Byrne (mum), Penny Dougan (health visitor), film maker that BCHC are using to make a film about Health Visiting which includes Nicky.

Penny Dougan

Senior Practice Teacher B.C.H.C.