Merton Health Visiting team are finalists for the Nursing Times Awards 2021

Published: 7th September 2021

Our Health Visiting team in Merton have been nominated in the ‘Children's services’ category for establishing a service provision at Church Road Children's Centre which was modified to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols to provide exclusive and accessible one-on-one breastfeeding support to mothers and their babies. The key aim of this initiative was to keep a patient-centred service available to everyone and to keep health disparities from widening during the pandemic, and offer families safe and quality care.

Across the borough, our health visitors and nursery nurses promote and implement UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative standards. Our wonderful breastfeeding champions, Rachel Purvis (Health Visitor), Cecilia Richards-Nkengfa (Health Visitor), and Simone Dawkins (Community Nursery Nurse), have been trained and certified to support and educate mothers across all communities. Indira Lopez-Bassols, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, provides a specialist breastfeeding clinic for clients who have complex breastfeeding issues.

Upon receiving the news of their nomination, Iman Hikal (Infant Feeding and Weight Management Lead) said: “I am thrilled that the nomination submitted has resulted in Church Road breastfeeding support service being shortlisted for the Nursing Times Award."

“A few months ago, I wrote a nomination about the inspiring work the Merton Health Visiting team did by providing breastfeeding support at Church Road every week, and how it was an invaluable service to so many mothers during the pandemic. I discussed how the team collectively enabled this support to run by working on a rota system, and how the percentage of babies still having breastmilk at 6-8 weeks after attending for support was incredible, higher than national and local averages”, she further explained.

In the rigorous two-stage judging process, every entry is read by more than 100 esteemed judges. After receiving 12 shortlisted entries for the Children's services category, Iman Hikal and Rachel Purvis presented their work for consideration. This was followed by a question-and-answer session with the panel of judges at the Nursing Times headquarters yesterday (Monday, 6 September), who were extremely pleased with the work they had accomplished. 

The judges on the panel were:

  • Wendy Nicholson - Deputy Chief Nurse, PHE and Deputy Head of WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Nursing and Midwifery& Programme Director for Best Start in Life. 
  • Lisa Patterson - Community Hospice Educator, St Nicholas Hospice Care, and winner of Children’s Services in the Nursing Times Awards 2020
  • Kath Evans - Director of Nursing (Children's) at Barts Health and Clinical Lead for Babies, Children & Young People at North East London STP 
  • Julie Knowles - Assistant Director for Safeguarding, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust

The Nursing Times Awards bring together the nursing community to shine a light on the brightest talent in the profession and recognise those who are making nursing innovative, patient-focused and inclusive. Good luck to the team who will find out if they have won on Wednesday 27 October 2021 at the awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. 

All finalists shortlisted for the Nursing Times Awards 2021 can be viewed on the event website.

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Pictured above is some of our breastfeeding leads and champions in Merton.

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