Annual conference 2018

07 November 2018

We bring you the highlights of this year’s Unite-CPHVA 2018 Annual Professional Conference.

Main Pic CPHVA

Have confidence in the future

During a lively two days in Bournemouth, delegates at this year’s Unite-CPHVA annual professional conference heard about the key issues impacting the professions from of an impressive line-up of speakers. These included the shadow secretary of state for health, and leading nurses, advisers, campaigners and academics from all four nations.

The conference was opened by Janet Taylor, CPHVA Executive Committee chair who introduced the conference theme for 2018: ‘Learn from the past: your role, your voice, your future’. She urged delegates to ‘believe that you can influence the future of public health, and have confidence that you will’.

Sarah Carpenter also offered a warm welcome from Unite, speaking of the hardships facing community practitioners: ‘I promise you we are doing everything we can to defend your jobs and your services.’

There were plenty of chances for delegates to express their opinion, too.This was the first year of the conference app, which allowed delegates to submit questions to conference speakers in advance –and to great effect.

Read on for a summary of key insights from this year’s major event...


We spoke to exhibitor Tori Joel, implementation manager for Baby Steps, NSPCC.


‘I was at conference to talk to delegates about Baby Steps – the perinatal education programme the NSPCC have devised. Health staff deliver the programme, including health visitors. I’ve got to meet some new people, new contacts and had lots of people take our resource. We have been getting out into the wider world, which is what we are here for so it’s really positive.’

Elizabeth Anionwu cphva
Celebrating women’s suffrage, Windrush and the NHS

Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu shared a personal perspective on a year of important anniversaries with delegates.

The honorary vice-president of Unite-CPHVA took the room on a ‘quick romp’ through 2018 and her work in connection with the NHS at 70, Windrush’s 70th anniversary and the 100 years since the Representation of the People Act allowed women the vote.

Among her stand-out moments was being invited to be a ‘suffrage champion’ on the ‘Suffrage Wall’ exhibition created by the Women in Humanities group at Oxford University, meeting 92-year-old Windrush passenger Alford Gardner at a commemorative visit to Tilbury docks, and appearing in the BBC Four documentary The NHS: a people’s history.

She was also among the NHS staff invited to the Great British Menu’s NHS anniversary banquet, and invited, also in honour of the anniversary, to sit in the royal box at Wimbledon.

Jonathan Ashworth
Cuts are betraying our children, says shadow minister

Shadow secretary of state for health and social care Jonathan Ashworth MP promised more investment in public health and prevention under a Labour government.

Appearing at the conference for a third year, he said cuts to public health services such as school nursing and health visiting were ‘letting down and betraying the children of this country’.

The current caseload crisis sees one in five health visitors working with caseloads of 500 children. Mr Ashworth said: ‘Refusing to deal with this rising caseload issue is storing up huge problems for the future of our children and the future of the health service.’

‘It’s my commitment today that a Labour government will invest properly and fully in health visiting.’

His other commitments included bringing back the training bursary and introducing an additional mandatory health visitor check at three to four months. He said he would ‘halt the cuts’ and instead ‘invest in public health and prevention and expand it as well’.

The Number Games - Inforgraphic


Philomene Uwanauga cphva

Sharing the stories of refugees and asylum-seekers

Refugee and genocide survivor Philomène Uwamaliya spoke movingly about advancing the rights and wellbeing of asylum-seekers and refugees.

Philomène, senior lecturer in the School of Nursing and Allied Health at Liverpool John Moores University, was passionate about the need for refugees and asylum- seekers to share their stories. She gave the Community Practitioner Nick Robin Memorial Lecture.

‘Compassion is about being kind, offering empathy, respect, dignity, validation,’ she said. ‘You can remind someone they are a human being. You might be the only person who has listened to them for a long time. You might not have all the answers, but a listening ear is essential.’

Philomѐne said there was a knowledge gap on the issues refugees face, from the physical and psychological trauma, to navigating a ‘hostile environment’ to accessing services.

Winning the Mary Seacole Leadership Award allowed Philomène to develop an online resource hub for professionals caring for asylum-seekers and refugees. She urged delegates to access the hub, which offers information on services, as well as good practice on how to promote health and wellbeing.

See here for Philomène’s Professional pause. 

Panel cphva
Children and public health: a view from the four nations

Senior nursing officers from across the four nations gave an overview of children’s public health provision in their region.

Dr Julia Egan, professional advisor for public health to the Scottish Government, said work was being done on refocusing the role of the health visitor and school nurse, with investment targeted at deprived areas.

She said there was a drive towards ‘consistency of services across Scotland’ and a move towards ‘integrated locality children’s teams’.

Professor Jean White, chief nursing officer for Wales, shared the Welsh Government’s vision for targeting support towards families in the greatest need.

The geographically targeted Flying Start health visiting programme would be applied more broadly across the population. There would also be a focus on adverse childhood experiences, obesity and mental health provision.

Professor Charlotte McArdle, chief nursing officer for Northern Ireland, spoke about the additional pressures of working without a government for almost two years.

She said that a recent review of the Family Nurse Partnership programme shows that these partnerships are ‘breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, improving outcomes for children and families, generating savings in child protection costs and reducing demand for other services.

Wendy Nicholson, national lead nurse for children, young people and families at Public Health England, told delegates that a key focus is providing evidence to ‘demonstrate the uniqueness of what health visitors and school nurses do’ and getting better at ‘articulating that to commissioners and those in decision-making positions’.

We caught up with Jean White, chief nursing officer for Wales and nurse director for NHS Wales.

‘I always find that going to conferences provides one of those great moments where you can pause and reflect about your own practice. But also to look around and see what other people are doing and to think: “What can I take away from this that will actually make a difference for the families and population I’m caring for?”'

Kathy Evans
How the market is harming family services

‘Children’s rights and family services are not a marketplace.’ This was the powerful message from Kathy Evans, chief executive of Children England.

Kathy said price-driven competition in commissioning meant ‘charities competing with each other, different services competing with each other’.

She added: ‘In this competitive environment, no one is really looking at the child or family as a whole… Let’s change attitudes, change behaviours and get more creative at partnership and pooling resources.’

She also painted a picture of the ‘perfect storm’ of funding cuts to local authorities, resulting in a record number of children going into care.

‘We need this comprehensive spending review to reverse the cuts to councils – it’s children and families who are feeling it.’ 

Joanne Protheroe cphva
The tools for teaching health literacy

How much do patients and clients really understand the health information that professionals give them?

This question was at the heart of a presentation by Professor Joanne Protheroe, a GP and health literacy expert.

Her research in this area has shown that health information is too complex for 43% of people aged between 16 and 65 – and that figure rises to 61% when the information also requires maths skills.

From medical terminology to hospital signage, Joanne said ‘there is a mismatch between what we providers give, and the skills of families and patients we are trying to help’.

But health professionals can improve matters by raising awareness of the issue, simplifying patient information, and using tools such as the ‘teach-back’ technique.

She also urged practitioners to ask: ‘What questions do you have?’ rather than: ‘Do you have any questions?’

The benefits of improving patients’ health literacy include improved medication use and self-management, and reduced disease severity, hospital use and A&E visits.

See here for the May 2018 Big story on health literacy.

Winner Sharin Baldwin cphva
Katrina Sealey cphva
Prizes for posters

The Practice Poster Award was won by Katrina Sealey (pictured right with Kitty Lamb, chair of the CPHVA Education and Development Trust), specialist practitioner school nurse (SPCN) with the Elmbridge 0 to 19 team, for her Year 7 interactive poster.

The Research Poster Award was won by Sharin Baldwin (left), clinical academic lead, community nursing, at the London North West University Health Care Trust.



Elaine Baptise cphva
Moria Dawson
LAR awards

Elaine Baptiste (pictured right with Sarah Carpenter), health visitor/SPCN at North East London Foundation Trust, was named local accredited representative of the year. Moira Dawson (left) at Derbyshire NHS Foundation Trust was runner-up. Elaine was described 
as ‘always having an open ear, an intelligent response, and above all kind and honest’. 




Will Smart cphva
A digital NHS – what the future looks like

A vision for a digitally enabled NHS was laid out when Will Smart, chief information officer for health and care in England, outlined how technology will change the health service for the better.

Technology could create ‘a service much more built around the individual rather than the NHS and social care’, and offered an opportunity to ‘understand the health needs and begin to intervene more usefully in the lives of individuals’.

Technology should also improve the lives of healthcare staff, he added: ‘Technology isn’t going to remove that caring role – but it can really improve how we do it.’

He described the ‘four lenses’ around which this work is based: helping people more effectively manage how they interact with the service, helping healthcare professionals be more efficient, re-integrating services and making data available in all venues of care, and making data more available for research in order to bring innovations into healthcare much more quickly.

Will painted a heartening picture of the future for digitally enabled care, enhanced by healthcare apps, intuitive technology to reduce the burden on staff, data flowing freely between systems and better data management leading to easier adoption of innovation.

He concluded: ‘I would urge you in your organisations to step up and engage with the digital agenda because that’s how you are going to get changes that work for you.’

Sue Ashmore cphva
Baby Friendly Initiative – past, present, future

Unicef programme director Sue Ashmore gave delegates an update on the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI). She said that the BFI and health visiting have been intertwined from the start. ‘Some of our most passionate advocates were HVs,’ she said.

Of the challenge to improve the UK’s low breastfeeding rates, Sue said: ‘The UK has one of most entrenched bottle-feeding cultures in the world. It makes changes difficult. We also tend to talk about this as an individual issue when it’s a societal problem.’

She recognised that in the current climate it may feel exhausting for HVs to have to implement the BFI standards.

Sue also revealed how Scotland is leading the way with a 2017 Scottish survey showing an 11% rise in breastfeeding at six months, and 89% of mums receiving help with problems.

So what do we need to do? Sue recommended support to achieve sustainability, SCPHN programmes to include baby-friendly learning outcomes, and education for other health professionals. 

We spoke to Beth Jones, HV, and Louise Young, nurse adviser for safeguarding, Cardiff and Vale Flying Start teams, after their session on FGM.

‘We sat in the audience at conference last year and felt inspired by the speakers. We decided we wanted to present ourselves at the next one and to be a bigger part of it. We sat two seats away from each other and said: “Let’s do something.”’

Caroline Hudson cphva
Top tips from the science of resilience

Resilience is not just down to individuals – like Egyptian cotton, you need a ‘multi-threaded’ approach.

Caroline Hudson, of the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice, used this comparison to describe how individuals need to ‘create contextual effectiveness so we can thrive in the workplace rather than just learning how to survive’.

Caroline encouraged practitioners to reclaim and reframe resilience, and listed the ‘seven wellbeing bundles’: a positive organisational climate, low emotional exhaustion, organisational support, co-worker support, supervisor support, job satisfaction and a good local team climate.  

‘It’s about looking upstream to create conditions to help staff deal with some of those pressures,’ she said. 


Andrew Mayers cphva
Putting paternal mental health on the agenda

International campaigner Mark Williams and academic Dr Andrew Mayers (pictured) shone a spotlight on paternal mental health, illuminating an issue little recognised in health services.

Mark, founder of Fathers Reaching Out, spoke about his experience of postnatal depression, his breakdown following the traumatic delivery of his son, and his wife’s battle with severe postnatal depression.

‘I have spoken to more than 2000 fathers, not just in the UK but overseas as well – this is a global problem,’ he told delegates. ‘They want to share their stories and I became an advocate for them, to get the message out that fathers also suffer mental health problems.’

Andrew, principal academic at Bournemouth University, called for more education, less stigma and early interventions to help fathers cope.

He said: ‘Fathers experience these symptoms during the postnatal period and it’s having an impact on them, on their partner and critically it’s having an impact on that developing infant. Whatever we call it – we need to do something about it.’

Click here for an interview with Mark Williams.

PARTY time – let’s jive!

The networking continued into the evening with a 1940s-themed party at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel. Guests were treated to arrival drinks, a delicious buffet dinner and entertainment. The latter consisted of jive dancers (courtesy of Jitterbugjive)
and swing music. 

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Image Credit | CPHVA

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