Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, joined Lee Thomas at BBC Radio Stoke this morning on an item which is part of a series on the impact of the pandemic on parents – with today’s session on new parents and health visiting.

podcast for BBC Radio Stoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison said:

“It is so sad to hear these stories from those parents who have been seriously let down by a system which is under enormous pressure. And also the health visitors who have worked really, really hard through the pandemic to support thousands and thousands of families, but it hasn’t been enough.”

Alison stated that there are two main drivers for this situation in England: 1) that need has increased; and 2) the capacity of the service to respond has been stretched to the limit – with parents bearing the brunt of this.

“As many of the parents stated,  a lot of the health visiting services shifted to non-face-to-face, using video and telephone, but it is not the same as seeing someone face-to-face. The root of this can be traced to the beginning of the pandemic when the Government categorised health visiting as a partial stop service – there was a failure to recognise the health visitor’s vital role and the support that it offers to parents;  just being alongside parents.”

She also said that the current ‘sticking plasters are not good enough’ and we need a national plan to put it right for children now.

The news item on parents and the pandemic starts at 1:09:13 into the programme with parents providing their experiences, and Alison joins at 1:11:41 with the item ending at 1:19:33

Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, joined Jonny Dymond on BBC Radio 4’s World at One today to discuss the surge in new mothers and pregnant women seeking help for mental health problems in the lockdown.

The piece on perinatal mental health and health visiting begins with a mum, Amy, sharing her PMH concerns as a new mother and how it impacted her life during the pandemic – this starts at 32:18 into the programme. Alison joins at 35:53 to talk about the health visiting service and the role that health visitors play in providing support to new mothers. Jonny asked if the figures on perinatal mental illness that Radio 4 World at One have become aware of reflect what health visitors are seeing. Alison shared that before the pandemic 20-25% of women and some men had perinatal mental health needs and that the pandemic has made the situation much worse, with rates reportedly doubling. Alison speaks about the vital role that health visitors play supporting families and the difference that getting support early can make.

Alison also shares the challenges that the health visiting service in England faces. In particular, she shares how the needs of women and babies have been largely overlooked in the pandemic response and the impact that this has had on families. With widespread recognition that many women do not find it easy to speak out about how they are feeling, and against a backdrop of 31% cuts to the health visiting workforce since 2015, Alison highlights how these cuts reduce the amount of time that HVs can spend with families. She commented that health visitors come into  the profession wanting to support babies and families – to give babies the best start in life! When challenged about whether families have been let down, Alison agrees that the sector has been under enormous pressure, but defended the profession by saying, “I can tell you categorically that  health visitors did the very best job they could under immensely challenging circumstances!”

  • Recording available for 29 days only from 30 July
  • PMH piece starts at 32:18
  • Alison Morton starts at 35:53
  • Piece ends 39:19

 

NHS Business Services Authority is working with on a Department of Health & Social Care project to improve the Healthy Start scheme and is looking for some health visitors to interview about their role and experience.

Healthy Start provides vouchers for pregnant women, children, parents and families in receipt of qualifying benefits to buy fruit, veg, milk and vitamins. The scheme currently uses paper-based vouchers, however they intend to trial the use of prepaid cards and an online application process.

An important part of this project involves talking to healthcare professionals that help promote the scheme – so they are looking for some health visitors to interview. To do this they conduct telephone calls, which last around 30mins. The call is carried out by their researchers, it’s an informal chat to find out more about your role and your experience of promoting the Healthy Start scheme.

They are looking to do the research calls next week between  Monday 24 and Thursday 27 June. They are flexible on the day and times.

If you are able to help by taking part, simply email [email protected] with the details below:

  • Your availability (give day and preferred times)
  • Your role
  • How long you have been in your role?
  • Do you currently promote Healthy Start with the families you see?