Published on: 12 June 2023

A specialist community public health team at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has won the regional NHS Parliamentary Award for its work to reduce inequalities in health and social care by supporting asylum-seeking families in Derby city and are now in the running for the national award.

The team are in the national running for the Health Equalities Award at a ceremony in London in July, having been nominated by Derby MPs Amanda Solloway and Margaret Beckett. The award recognises work which helps the NHS to bring together different groups and organisations to reduce health inequalities and prevent ill health in the communities they serve.

The team – which is made up of two specialist community public health nurses, a family health practitioner and a child practitioner from Derby City Council – promotes early intervention and community integration for asylum-seeking families and strives to reduce health inequalities through advice, assessment and public health information to improve outcomes for children and families.

Most families and children supported by the team arrive with multiple health needs and require a prompt response. Patients may have long-term conditions that have not been managed due to lack of care, or complex skin conditions that have not been treated. Immediate action and treatment by the team can provide symptom relief and also prevent the need for more complex care or urgent medical attention if left untreated.

As the families may have experienced health care in different countries and communities, navigating the NHS can be very difficult, which is why the team explain the technicalities and processes when accessing healthcare in the UK- explaining, for example, how to get infant and child vaccinations.  

Often the parents and children have suffered previous trauma, leading to deeper and more complex health issues, which the team help to identify at an early stage, before they potentially become more serious.

The team successfully works in partnership with consultant and community paediatricians, speech and language therapists, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) colleagues, dieticians and tuberculosis nurse specialists to provide multi-disciplinary support to a range of health issues. This also includes supporting children in accessing special educational needs and disability (SEND) support where necessary.

Susan Earnshaw, Area Service Manager for 0-19 Children’s Services at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, congratulated the team on the good news. She said: “Children’s services are not praised enough for the amazing work they do to make a real difference to children’s lives.

“The team have done an exceptional job at building this service from the ground up and making it what it is today. They should all be very proud!”

Virginia Hickman, Specialist Community Public Health Nurse for Asylum Seeking Families, said: “The team are proud to be one of a small number of initiatives supporting asylum-seeking families within the UK. We are pleased that our multi-disciplinary and partnership approach across Derby is relatively unique.

“There are only a couple of similar initiatives countrywide within health but none with social and health care partnership working. We are looking forward to attending the ceremony to represent Derbyshire Healthcare in July.”

Councillor John Whitby, Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, Learning and Skills at Derby City Council, said: “We are proud to be involved in this excellent initiative with Derbyshire Healthcare.

“I’m so pleased see the team recognised for all the wonderful work they do to support asylum-seeking families in Derby.”

A full list of regional champions for the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2023 can be found on the website. Winners are expected to be announced during a ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on 5 July 2023.

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