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UCLan health expert honoured as one of country’s outstanding health visitors

18 March 2015

Press Office

Dr Whittaker one of only 150 people nationwide to be made Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting  

A community health expert from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been honoured by the NHS as one of 150 outstanding health visitors in the country.

Dr Karen Whittaker has been appointed as a Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting (FiHV), which is sponsored by the Department of Health. The status recognises the professional achievement of exceptional health visitors – creating a new country-wide group of expert and confident leaders who make a real difference to the health outcomes of children and their families.

Speaking at the ceremony in Westminster where she received her award on NHS Change Day, Karen commented: “Becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting is a very proud moment in my career.

"I hope the award will help me and others in promoting and delivering quality education for student health visitors who are motivated to provide essential universal services for children and families in the early years.”

Karen added:“The leadership programme has provided links with visionary health visitors across England and I feel honoured to join them. I hope the award will help me and others in promoting and delivering quality education for student health visitors who are motivated to provide essential universal services for children and families in the early years.”

Dr Cheryll Adams, Director of the Institute of Visiting, said: “Our Fellows are already really strengthening leadership in the health visiting profession and will now help develop the next generation of health visitors. So what better day, than NHS Change Day, to celebrate 150 health visiting change agents who demonstrate there is immense talent in our profession and who will lead the way to ensure excellence in practice.”

To become a Fellow, Karen went through a very rigorous application process in which she was assessed for her contributions to health visiting and also to children, families and communities.

Karen’s achievements include contribution to UNICEF-CEE/CIS work on growing home visiting service in Eastern Europe and more locally the establishment of a North of England Health Visitor Research Network.

“Becoming a Fellow is just the start of an exciting journey with the Institute of Health Visiting. Together, the Fellows and the Institute will develop the next generation of health visitors, and integrate new policy and research into practice."

Each Fellow needed to demonstrate excellence in practice and also their leadership potential. They had to submit three testimonials, one from a family, one from a peer and one from a senior manager.

Since being accepted, all Fellows have undertaken a special four-day leadership development programme before the conferment ceremony in Westminster. Then they were acknowledged as “expert and confident” health visitor leaders who are ready to become local ambassadors for health visiting, as well as for the Institute of Health Visiting.

Dr Adams continued: “Becoming a Fellow is just the start of an exciting journey with the Institute of Health Visiting. Together, the Fellows and the Institute will develop the next generation of health visitors, and integrate new policy and research into practice. Fellows and the iHV will ensure that health visitors continue to make a real difference to the health outcomes of children and their families.”

The Fellowship scheme, launched in May 2014 and sponsored by the Department of Health, culminated with an inaugural conferment ceremony held in Westminster as part of NHS Change Day. The scheme set out to identify and acknowledge 150 exceptional health visitors who have made a real difference to health outcomes for children and families in England.