Over six weeks in the summer I have been lucky enough to work as an intern with such a fantastic team in the Public Health England Chief Nurse Directorate. It all started when I passed the fast stream assessment to secure a placement in civil service, and I was offered my placement in Public Health England’s Chief Nurse Directorate, which seemed odd because my background was politics and economics, not nursing. On the first day I was assigned work in policy for children, young people and families, which drove me back to familiar territory because of my background and the fact that I am a father of two young girls. Reading the professional pathways that have already been published instantly gained my interest in the policies being developed around health visiting and school nursing, due to their far reaching impact on the whole nation.
I started work on projects related to supporting military families and school readiness. Working within a team of professional nurses, policy advisors and other stakeholders, such as the Queens Nursing Institute, SSAFA and the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA), on developing support for military families offered me an insight into the amount of challenges facing health visitors and school nurses. The challenges included understanding service life and its impact on children, understanding new commissioning arrangements and how these fit with military children, understanding referral and signposting services in the local area and most importantly how to develop the skills and ability to identify children from military families.
The school readiness work highlighted the importance of the health visiting and school nursing partnership to ensure the best outcomes for children and families. The economic benefits of early intervention were part of the evidence base to increase the numbers of health visitors.
Health visitors and school nurses were involved in developing each policy or professional guidance for children, young people and families. The support and help I had from our health visitor after my new-born daughter was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease made me realise that health visitors are the unsung heroes in the process of delivering services and polices at the local level.
Hesham Mansour is currently studying at the University of Surrey