Thursday, 25 October 2007

UNITE/CPHVA Statement (Unite the Union/Community Practitioner and Health Visitor's Association)

UNITE the Union, Who Cares? Campaign
Protecting Community Health Services

18th October 2007.


Health visitors feel that they must strongly protest about one of the mentors on Channel 4’s programme ‘Bringing up Baby’. Claire Verity calls herself a Maternity Nurse and boasts that she is paid £1,000 a day to get babies into a routine. The Nursing and Midwifery Council in a press release in response to the programme stated:

“Made-up titles like ‘maternity nurse’ are deceptive as they imply the person has earned qualifications that they do not have. This only serves to confuse the public and could prove damaging to the high level of trust that people have for genuine nurses and midwives”

Were Claire Verity an NMC registrant she could be facing professional misconduct charges.

Her advice to new mothers is not evidence based and runs directly contrary to the guidelines produced by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths on reducing the risk of cot death. She is clearly unaware of the effect of ignoring babies on their brain development and the subsequent potential long term damage to their ability to form trusting relationships and enjoy good emotional health.

The latest programme in the series from Channel 4 once again calls into question the ethics of making such a programme. Voluntary codes of ethics are clearly not working. What is needed is an independently appointed ethics committee made up of informed professionals. Potential producers of programmes involving the filming of 0-17 year olds should be required to bring their plans for approval and to demonstrate that they will do no harm. Such a group could be appointed by OFCOM or the UK Children’s Commissioners and should include a child psychologist, child psychotherapist, child psychiatrist, paediatrician, social worker, health visitor, midwife, parent representatives and the NSPCC.

What we have seen on our screens promotes child care practice which research has demonstrated puts babies’ physical and emotional health at risk. Such practice should not be promoted to the general public and undermine the work of many professionals involved in the care of mothers and babies or current Department of Health guidance. Babies’ cannot give their permission to take part in such programmes and indeed it is unlikely that their parents fully understand the implications of taking part. Babies rely on their parents and society to protect them. There seems to be no protection from the makers of reality TV programmes. Unite/CPHVA raised their concerns to the producers early in the production process.

Unite/CPHVA would like to see the Children's Commissioners’ offices in the four countries in the UK putting their influence behind the establishment of a new ethical panel to regulate the involvement of children in reality TV programmes and has raised this with the English Commissioner

UNITE/CPHVA Professional Team

For further information, please ring:

Maggie Fisher 07918 608115 (Blackberry)
Cheryll Adams, Lead Professional Officer, Unite Health 07712 678 281 (mobile)
Shaun Noble Communications Officer 020 7780 4080 (direct line)
07768 693 940 (mobile)

Unite/CPHVA press releases can be seen on the CPHVA website:

Unite (Amicus section) is the third largest union in the NHS. It has seven professional sections: the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, the Mental Health Nurses Association, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, the Society of Sexual Health Advisers, the Medical Practitioners’ Union, College of Healthcare Chaplains, and the Hospital Physicists Association.

Unite was formed by an amalgamation of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union in May 2007.

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