Chief Nursing Officer for England, Dame Ruth May, visited the Birmingham Forward Steps (BFS) health visiting hub to mark its first full year supporting communities in the city.

Image credit: Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

The hub provides a single point of access for those seeking advice from a health visitor, saving Birmingham parents, carers and families precious time and making it easier for NHS professionals to provide real-time advice to those most in need.

Claire Paintain, children and families divisional director at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC), said:

“We are immensely proud to showcase the great work of the health visiting hub and our Birmingham Forward Steps health visiting teams.

“Dame Ruth saw our innovative approach to supporting our district teams, with the introduction of specialist health visitor roles such as ‘temporary accommodation’ and ‘strengthening families’ that support families and children who are most in need.

“Dame Ruth’s visit demonstrates BCHC leading by example to help improve the wellbeing of parents and carers across the Birmingham community.”

During the visit, Dame Ruth saw how all incoming unplanned and additional referrals, queries, and concerns have been centralised, allowing district teams to better focus on the mandated child health programme and meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

She also saw that a high bar for excellence has been set in Birmingham, with calls answered inside an average of three minutes.

Dame Ruth May said:

“It was fantastic to visit Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and to meet the health visiting team.

“The service offered by the hub and the introduction of specialist health visitor roles helps people to have quick and easy access to the right advice and support, which is so important.

“It was great to learn more about the specialist support the team provides to meet the needs of families and communities in Birmingham.”

Currently being piloted in Erdington, Sutton Coldfield, Selly Oak and Ladywood, plans are in place to have all Birmingham areas and families supported by the hub service by the end of summer 2024.

The Health Visiting Hub

Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, the health visiting (HV) hub provides a single point of access for parents, carers and professionals seeking advice from a health visitor.
Launched in January 2024, it currently covers four areas of Ladywood, Sutton Coldfield, Erdington and Selly Oak with plans to include the remaining six districts services this year.
A central team of admin and health visitors handle unplanned work, releasing clinical teams for planned work. The hub focuses on providing a simplified, integrated system of a single point of access for Birmingham – offering faster response rates to parents, partners and other stakeholders.


Last week, health visiting leaders, practitioners, policy makers and partners joined together in London for the Institute of Health Visiting’s annual Leadership conference. The event was held at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists/ Royal College of Midwives’ headquarters at 10 Union Street in London. Despite significant travel disruptions caused by the rail strike, 162 delegates were able to attend in-person, with a further 102 delegates registered online – with many saying that they wouldn’t miss it for the world! Thank you, we really value all your support.

The title of the conference was “Leading in a complex world” – if we have ever needed strong leaders, we need them now! With so much rapid change, it is even more important that we take time out to take stock, and learn, and reflect together. The aim of the iHV Leadership conference is for everyone to leave the conference feeling proud of the work that they do, valued, inspired, connected and energised with lots of new ideas to lead health visiting into the future.

iHV Leadership Conference 2023

The conference had a stellar line-up of national expert keynote speakers and panellists who skilfully covered an extensive breadth of topics including the impacts of child poverty, preconception care, preventative approaches to address the pressures on urgent care, health visiting research and education priorities (read the programme here). We were also delighted to be joined by Dame Ruth May DBE, the Chief Nursing Officer for England, who shared her new Vision for Nursing and Midwifery (including health visiting), hot off the press after it was launched at the CNO Summit a couple of weeks ago. Whilst this Vision is aimed at health visitors in England, a number of the priorities that the Vision is addressing will be similar priorities for all UK nations, with lots of transferable principles wherever health visitors are working.

Dame Ruth May DBE, CNO England, addressing iHV Leadership Conference 2023

In her keynote address, Dame Ruth said:

“I’ve been wanting to set out a Vision for nurses, midwives – and now health visitors – going forwards into the future… the Institute of Health Visiting has played a real part in that, wanting to make sure that health visiting, and school nursing, and public health nursing were definitely part of it.”

Dame Ruth went on to explain that it was “no accident” that “Prevention, protection promotion and reducing health inequalities” is the first priority area in her Vision. When the order of the priority areas were being decided, amongst 6 other competing important priorities, Ruth explained that it was important to highlight the “step change” needed to prioritise this area by putting it first. The remaining six ‘priority areas’ of Ruth’s Vision will also need to be translated into key actions for health visiting to ensure that they are achieved. The seven priority areas are:

  1. Prevention, protection, promotion and reducing health inequalities
  2. Protecting our planet
  3. Person-centred care
  4. Public and patient safety
  5. Professional leadership and integration.

With two additional enabling areas focused on:

  1. Professional culture
  2. People and workforce development.

Ruth called on health visitors to join with her in delivering this Vision, which would start with understanding the data on health visiting workforce and service delivery – Ruth made a plea for help with this. The keynote address concluded with Ruth reiterating her commitment to health visiting, her desire to work with practitioners and the iHV, and to use her voice with the government of the day, stating, “I look forward to working with you – I look forward to working for you – and look forward to you challenging me, making sure we make this a reality”.

Ruth’s keynote address was then followed by an interesting panel discussion which included reflections and comments from Dr Helen Duncan (National Lead for Lifecourse Intelligence, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities), Liz Fenton (Deputy Chief Nurse, Workforce, Training and Education Directorate, NHS England) and Nicky Brown (Senior Nurse/Public Health Specialist Babies, Children and Young People, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities).

iHV Leadership Conference 2023

Overall, the conference has received excellent feedback in the post-event evaluations received so far. There was an incredible buzz in the room as delegates connected with old friends and made new ones – there is something very special about meeting together as a health visiting community in London in the festive season.

The conference was recorded and all delegates will have received links to access all conference materials today that we have received permission to share to support further reflection and learning (if you have not received these, please do get in touch with [email protected] who can help).

Posts from #iHVLeadership2023