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The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) has announced that Dr Cheryll Adams, who founded the organisation, will be stepping back from her role as executive director early next year.
Current director of policy and quality at the institute, Alison Morton, will become acting executive director in January until the post is advertised during 2021.
“My outstanding hope is that the government will take urgent action to rebuild this amazing profession”
Eight years after launching the institute as a charity and academic body, Dr Adams said it was “important to know when to step back and this is the time”.
Having spent 10 years setting up, launching and running the iHV, Dr Adams said she “couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved so far”.
The institute was created in 2012 as a Centre of Excellence to strengthen the services which health visitors provide and to support those in the profession in their roles.
Dr Adams, who was awarded a CBE in 2016 for her services to health visiting, is due to step back from her role in January where she will go on to support Ms Morton’s transition into the role until the end of March 2021.
Dr Adams will continue to support the institute with project work on a part-time basis and will take on the title of founding director.
The outgoing executive director had a strong message about her ongoing hopes for the profession.
“My outstanding hope is that the government will take urgent action to rebuild this amazing profession in England,” said Dr Adams.
“There are 30% less health visitors working in England today than there were five years ago, unlike in the rest of the UK where the profession is being strengthened. New investment is desperately needed to reverse this.”
She added: “Health visitors work quietly and professionally with families to provide a safety net for all babies and pre-school children.
“They turn children’s lives around, providing them with brighter futures and, in so doing, help to reduce the impact of health inequalities for all of us.”
“The institute is now a well-established entity with a strong vision at its core”
Under Dr Adams’ lead, the institute had developed a portfolio of high-respected award-winning training programmes, regular conferences and many new products and publications to support the profession and practice development.
The institute prides itself in now having both a UK-wide and global reach and for its work on programmes around perinatal and infant mental health, language development and nutrition.
“The institute is now a well-established entity with a strong vision at its core,” said Dr Adams.
“This has only been strengthened by the impacts of Covid-19, which has required us to adopt new ways of working in order to continue our activities and serve the profession and families during this challenging period.”
She added that the impact of coronavirus on young families had been “immense”.
“It has also shone a light on just how essential the health visiting service is – now more than ever,” said Dr Adams.
“The government cannot afford to ignore this any longer. There is too much at stake. It is time to act and to invest in rebuilding this vital profession once more.”
In stepping back, she said she was confident in the future of the institute.
“My team is strong and successful, and the institute has become the go-to academic body for health visiting,” said Dr Adams. “I have total faith that the institute has a bright future.”
Speaking of the appointment or Ms Morton, Dr Adams said: “In the time she has been with us, Alison has more than proved her commitment and passion to the health visiting profession – an essential trait for the organisation’s next leader.
“Alison has real vision, talent and energy and I will enjoy watching that being translated into action.”
Pamela Goldberg, chair of trustees at the iHV, said of the organisation’s new acting executive director: “I have complete confidence in Alison to take the Institute into its next phase of development and, with Cheryll, look forward to supporting her transition into this new role.”
Nursing Times contacted the Department of Health and Social care for a response to Dr Adams’ comments.