Dr Cheryll Adams CBE steps back nine years after founding the Institute of Health Visiting

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Founding Director of the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), retires today after 40 years working in the health visiting profession.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Founding Director at the Institute of Health Visiting


Dr Adams spent three decades working as a health visitor and in research and policy, before launching the Institute in 2012. She established the Institute of Health Visiting with three academic colleagues, with a vision to improve the research base for the health visiting profession – and to promote the value of health visiting for improving children’s lives.

Since its launch in 2012, the Institute has enjoyed many successes, including developing a portfolio of highly respected, award-winning evidence-based training programmes; hosting regular conferences; producing many new products and publications to support the health visiting profession, as well as practice development resources; and, of particular note, are its academic programmes focused on perinatal and infant mental health, language development, nutrition, and leadership.

Entirely self-funded since day one, the Institute has become a respected and valued voice nationally for health visiting, as well as for babies and young families. The iHV’s reach is now both UK-wide and global, enjoying a wide range of effective partnerships across the sector.

Commenting on her retirement, Dr Adams said:

“I am very proud of all that we have achieved with the Institute over the past nine years. I am particularly pleased that so many health visitors have benefitted from our programmes. Starting out, many said that it was over-ambitious to set up a new professional body during a recession. Yet, with drive, determination and invaluable support, it worked out and the Institute has now developed a firm foundation to take forward its many work streams and strengthen health visiting practice into the future.

“’The health visiting role is such an important one. It literally changes the life course of many infants and their families. As such, with proper investment, health visiting has the power to ultimately change society for the better.”

Dr Adams added:

“Following the launch of the Leadsom Early Years Healthy Development Review last week, I feel confident that we will soon have a new policy platform from which to deliver desperately-needed investment into health visiting. The iHV will work closely with government to ensure that this happens, under the very able leadership of the Institute’s acting Executive Director, Alison Morton.

“Although I am retiring today, I will stay close to the work of the Institute, providing on-going advice as needed. I look forward to watching the Institute move forwards into its next exciting stage of development.”

Pamela Goldberg OBE, Chair of the iHV’s Board of Trustees, said:

“The Institute of Health Visiting, health visitors, and families across the UK owe a huge debt to Cheryll for the inspiration she has provided through her establishment of the Institute. She leaves it today in a stable position and in very capable hands. We wish her every enjoyment in her new chapter.”

Outgoing CEO says: “Government must invest in rebuilding health visiting profession.”

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) is preparing to welcome a new Executive Director. Eight years after launching the charity and academic body, iHV’s current Executive Director, Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, will step back in January 2021.

Stepping into her role is the Institute’s current Director of Policy and Quality, Alison Morton, who will become Acting Executive Director until the post is advertised during 2021. Dr Adams will remain with the iHV working part time, taking the title of Founding Director. Until the end of March 2021, Dr Adams will support Ms Morton’s transition into the role, and will continue to support the Institute with project work thereafter.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, outgoing Executive Director of iHV

In stepping back, Dr Adams had a strong message about her ongoing hopes for the profession, saying:

“My outstanding hope is that the government will take urgent action to rebuild this amazing profession in England. There are 30% less health visitors working in England today than there were five years ago, unlike in the rest of the UK where the profession is being strengthened. New investment is desperately needed to reverse this.”

She added:

“Health visitors work quietly and professionally with families to provide a safety net for all babies and pre-school children. They turn children’s lives around, providing them with brighter futures and, in so doing, help to reduce the impact of health inequalities for all of us.”

The iHV was launched in 2012 to strengthen the services which health visitors provide to parents, and for supporting health visitors in their challenging role on the frontline of preventative healthcare.

Over the last eight years, the Institute has enjoyed many successes, including developing a portfolio of highly-respected award-winning training programmes, regular conferences, and many new products and publications supporting the profession and practice development. Particular strengths have been its work programmes around perinatal and infant mental health, language development and nutrition. The iHV’s reach is now both UK-wide and global and it has a wide range of effective partnerships with others in the sector. Entirely self-funded since day one, the Institute has become a respected and valued voice nationally for health visiting, as well as for babies and young families.

Dr Adams, who founded the Institute, was awarded a CBE in 2016 for her services to health visiting. In announcing the iHV’s upcoming leadership change, she said:

“It is important to know when to step back and this is the time. I have spent 10 years setting up, launching and running the Institute and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved so far. My team is strong and successful, and the Institute has become the go-to academic body for health visiting. I have total faith that the Institute has a bright future.”

Pamela Goldberg OBE, Chair of Trustees at the iHV, said of the organisation’s new Acting Executive Director:

“I have complete confidence in Alison to take the Institute into its next phase of development and, with Cheryll, look forward to supporting her transition into this new role. “

Dr Adams added:

“In the time she has been with us, Alison has more than proved her commitment and passion to the health visiting profession – an essential trait for the organisation’s next leader. Alison has real vision, talent and energy and I will enjoy watching that being translated into action.”

Alison Morton, Acting Executive Director, iHV

In conclusion, Dr Adams said:

“The Institute is now a well-established entity with a strong vision at its core. This has only been strengthened by the impacts of COVID-19, which has required us to adopt new ways of working in order to continue our activities and serve the profession and families during this challenging period.

“The impact of COVID-19 on young families has been immense. It has also shone a light on just how essential the health visiting service is – now more than ever! The government cannot afford to ignore this any longer. There is too much at stake. It is time to act and to invest in rebuilding this vital profession once more.”

The Institute of Health Visiting is delighted to announce the appointment of their first Director, Alison Morton, who joined the Institute today as Director of Policy and Quality.

Alison Morton, Director of Policy and Quality iHV



Alison was one of the Institute’s first five Fellows. Her most recent role has been as Best Start in Life Programme Manager at Public Health England.




Alison commented:

“I am delighted to be joining the Institute at a time when the spotlight is once again shining on the importance of the first few years of a child’s life as a foundation for future health and wellbeing. The evidence is clear that investing in early intervention and prevention is the right thing to do if we are serious about wanting every child to achieve their potential. Yet there remain persistent, unacceptable inequalities in outcomes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with disabilities, as well as unwarranted variation in support for children and their families dependent on where they live. These inequalities result in poorer physical and mental health, academic achievement and employment prospects throughout the life-course.

“Whilst it can be tempting to invent a ‘new wheel’ when faced with a complex set of problems across society, I strongly believe that the health visiting service provides a crucial part of the ‘solution’ for a number of government departments who fund late intervention.  Crucially, the evidence highlights the key role that the health visiting service plays in leading the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme (0-5 years), in partnership with a wide range of other agencies. I look forward to working with health visitors throughout the country and partners working in maternity and early years, as well as government departments, to strengthen the health visiting service and ensure that every child truly does have the ‘Best Start in Life’.”

We are delighted to share 2 new opportunities with iHV:

  • Director of Policy and Quality
  • iHV Practice Development Lead

Director of Policy and Quality

The iHV is seeking to appoint its first Director to take responsibility for the further development of our policy and quality functions, whilst supporting the Executive Director and wider team activity.

The successful applicant will be educated to Doctoral level, or equivalent academic/professional leadership experience, and will have a strong track record of leading policy and quality initiatives, as well as of budgetary management and contracting.

Applications close: 9.00 am, Monday 14 January 2019

Interviews: Tuesday 22 January 2019 (please hold this date in your diary if applying)

For further information or an informal conversation about this post please contact Dr Cheryll Adams, [email protected]


iHV Practice Development Lead

The iHV is seeking to appoint a lead officer for practice development, working across the whole organisation and with the expectation that one day a week will be allocated to supporting iHV training functions.

The postholder, will have minimum of a master’s degree and a strong education and practice development background.

Applications close: 9:00am Friday 11 January 2019 

Interviews: afternoon on Monday 21 January 2019 (please hold this time in your diary if applying)

For further information or an informal conversation about this post please contact Dr Cheryll Adams [email protected]