Friday, 27 June 2008

NW Regional Infant and Maternal Mental Health Network

I attended the NW IMMH meeting today.

We were told about that the new national Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) network has been launched for people interested in, involved with or with experience of PIMH.

Membership of the network is free and more information is available at:

To join contact Janet Cobb ( or or go to

We also heard about the scope and gap analysis of IMMH in the NW. I shouted out for the mums! We also need to know of what voluntary groups there are in the Northwest of England - please let me know!

We also heard from Dr. Margaret Oates, consultant perinatal psychiatrist from East Midlands. She spoke to us about managed clinical networks for perinatal mental health. She stressed that by setting up effective perinatal mental health networks they were cost effective in the end. Her top tips were also

1. Encourage psychiatrists to ask women about their families as a matter of course, just as any medical doctor would.
2. Pre-pregnancy advice for any woman of child-bearing age if they have a mental health problem.

Plans are being made for a NW meeting on 25th September.

I am pleased to see that NICE guidelines are being responded to ... but it needs to be faster!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise

I was invited along this evening by UKTI to an event to raise awareness of the Queen's Awards for Enterprise, held at Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus. UKTI are proving to be most helpful to me in my quest to become a world-class speaker so I wanted to support this occasion. Although I am not ready to apply yet (who knows one day?!) I found it most interesting and shall look out for companies to nominate for it. If successful we would both get an invitation to the palace!

Could it be you? This information was sent onto me by Steven Brice, the secretary of the awards. He very kindly escorted me to my car as I paddled through the torrential rain!

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise
The Queen’s Awards Scheme, originally known as “The Queen’s Award to Industry”, was instituted by Royal Warrant in 1966 following the recommendations of a Committee chaired by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The purpose of the Scheme was to encourage UK businesses to innovate and export more to help the UK out of an adverse balance of payments situation that was prevalent at the time. The Awards have been in existence for over forty years and they continue to be the UK’s most prestigious awards for business performance. In today’s global economy, where the rate of change and the level of competition is unprecedented, it is important that the UK continues to be highly flexible and innovative to ensure future wealth creation and continued growth in the UK economy.
The Queen’s Award to Industry was replaced in 1976 by two separate Awards – The Queen’s Award for Export Achievement and The Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement. In 1993 a third Award category, The Queen’s Award for Environmental Achievement, was added. The Awards Scheme continued until 1999 when a Committee chaired by HRH The Prince of Wales carried out a comprehensive review. The Review Committee recommended that the Awards be known generically as “The Queen's Awards for Enterprise”. The Awards now consist of a business Award with three separate categories, and an Award for individuals, The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, launched in July 2004.
Business Awards:
Any UK-based business, employing at least two full-time people (or part-time equivalent), which can demonstrate commercial success and outstanding achievement in its field can apply for a Queen's Award. Companies do not need to be sponsored or nominated. The three business Award categories are:
International Trade
Conferred on companies which have demonstrated commercial success and outstanding growth in overseas earnings over three years or continuous growth in overseas earnings over six years.
Granted to organisations which have demonstrated commercial success through outstanding or continuous development of innovative products or services over two or five years respectively. If more than one business unit has produced or marketed a product, provided a service, or has developed a technology then a joint application may be eligible depending on the contribution made. Non-profit making organisations, including charities, are eligible to apply in the Innovation and Sustainable Development categories, provided they maintain an accounting system which enables them to identify their business performance and degree of commercial success.
Sustainable Development
Awarded to companies which have achieved commercial success through the outstanding or continuous integration of environmental, social, economic and management aspects of sustainable development into their business, over two or five years respectively.

The Queen's Awards Office is charged with ensuring that Queen's Awards are only granted to business units that maintain the highest standards of propriety. Therefore applicants may be required to complete a Declaration of Corporate Responsibility providing assurances of responsible conduct in the selection and control of suppliers, management of the production process and of human resources, and customer service to ensure that they are good corporate citizens. Applicants may also be asked to provide an auditor's certificate confirming the performance figures quoted in the application form.
The corporate Awards are made annually by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, who is assisted by an Advisory Committee that includes representatives of Government, industry and commerce, and the trade unions. They are announced each year on 21 April, The Queen’s birthday. The competition is free to enter and there is no pre-determined number of Awards granted; much depends on the strength of competition.
Every unsuccessful applicant will receive detailed feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of their case. This can be a useful benchmarking exercise and help an applicant with a successful application in a later year.
Winning a Queen’s Award puts a company in an elite class of successful businesses. The Queen’s Award Emblem is recognised both nationally and internationally as a mark of quality and success and, if used with energy and creativity, it can be a very powerful marketing tool. The business Award Emblem has a currency of five years and it can be displayed on a website, stationery, advertising, products, and winners can fly the Queen’s Award flag at their premises.
The Award can help those that win in a variety of ways. It can generate television coverage and extensive publicity in national, regional and trade press. It can also give businesses, especially small businesses, instant credibility and give a significant boost to staff morale, motivation and help with recruitment. The Award also gives companies a competitive edge in opening doors in difficult overseas markets, attracting new business and raising capital.
There are three main events that follow the annual announcement of the Award winners. A Celebratory Reception for the business Award winners and recipients of the individual Awards, hosted by The Queen’s Awards Office, is held shortly after the April announcement at a venue in London. The guest of honour is usually a Member of the Royal Family who delivers a congratulatory speech. Later in the year, an evening Reception is given by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s personal wish is that representatives, drawn from different parts of the business, are invited to attend to help recognise the contribution made by the whole workforce. Finally, on a mutually convenient date, a formal presentation of the Award is made on behalf of The Queen by the Lord Lieutenant of the County, at the winner’s premises. Staff and family members, customers, suppliers and local dignitaries are often invited.
Each year The Queen’s Awards Office conducts some market research to gauge the benefits that can be derived from winning the Award. Queen’s Award holders are contacted after they have held the Award for 12 months, so that they are better placed to comment about the benefits. In March 2008, questionnaires were sent to the 115 Award winners that were successful in 2007. Of the winning companies surveyed:
82% reported a significant boost to staff morale which, in turn, led to a highly
motivated and more productive workforce
80% of respondents believed their Queen’s Award had added commercial value to
their firms
69% gained increased recognition in the UK, whilst 57% found the Award
raised their profile overseas
55% of respondents said it was the most valuable award their business had won, and
41% of respondents said it gave them an edge over their competitors

Further information about the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise can be found on the website at For the 2009 Awards, it will be possible to make a business Award application on-line. The deadline for submission is midnight on 31 October 2008. Alternatively, application forms can be obtained by calling 08705 13 44 86.

So what is stopping you?

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Health Professionals - do you need more time with patients?

Tonight I spoke to some midwives, health visitors and other health professionals at an event organised by 'SMA' at Chester. The Ramada hotel was a great venue and I was pleased to christen my new 'cute and lightweight' laptop! It worked a treat.

I was the only speaker and presented my story - why perinatal mental health is important, the signs to look for and how to help. The questions seemed to go on for ages and I was delighted especially as the ladies had mainly done a day's work and we were still going strong at 9.30 pm!

The general feelings I picked up were that all the staff felt they wanted to do more to help mothers and families but either they felt they needed more training and/or they are so limited for time to spend with mothers.

What do other health professional feel?

Let me know via

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Soroptimists

The Soroptmists 'are women, from different professions, ages, races, religions, countries and cultures but all of us have a social conscience, which is why we joined Soroptimist International a worldwide organisation for women in management and professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women'.

See their website at

I spoke at Lancaster University at the AGM for North West England and the Isle of Man.

There were representatives from Accrington, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Carnforth and District, Douglas, The Fylde, Garstang, Grange-over-Sands, Lancaster, Leyland, Morecambe and Heysham, Pendleside, Preston, Rishton and Great Harwood, Rossendale, Windermere and District.

I was impressed with the work that they do and would encourage ladies to join!

I hope to speak at Lancaster University for the medical and health students soon!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Antenatal depression and bipolar disorder

Today I heard from a lady who has a diagnosis of bipolar who suffered with debilitating depression throughout her pregnancy which developed into puerperal psychosis after her baby was born. Do you know of anyone else who has also suffered in this way and would be happy to be put in touch with this other lady, just for a mutual support chat? If so contact me via my website

I had a busy day today which started out by reviewing the newspapers on Radio Merseyside. I picked out the stories including about women getting the legal right to breastfeed in public, under a new law being proposed by the government.

About time too! I remember having a screaming baby who needed feeding when I was out and about. Society should not frown on such a natural act - especially with the amount of topless models that are in the media everywhere these days! Anything that aims to make motherhood easier gets my vote!

Later on I met up with my school friend from my teens - Carol. We hadn't met for 24 years but chatted as if it was only yesterday. Aren't friendships wonderful like that? She has had four children and still looks as fabulous as she did in her teens. She now lives in the USA and I hope to catch up with her there one day soon.

Anyone else out there from Fleetwood Grammar School?

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Just missed Ben Bradshaw in Nottingham!

I was in Nottingham yesterday. I had a long-standing meeting to discuss a possible presentation at the a newly opened GP health centre in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. It was a very impressive centre but seemed deserted! Then I discovered it was because they were expecting a visit from the Health Minister Ben Bradshaw who underlined the Government's commitment to investment in family doctor services whilst there.

Sadly I had to leave before he arrived otherwise, given the opportunity, I would have loved to have raised the issue of lack of mother and baby beds in the UK; lack of support groups, etc. with him. One day soon ....

I then had the privilege to speak to student midwives at Nottingham University about the importance of perinatal mental health. It amazes and concerns me that not all such courses cover the subject in much detail. This must surely be changed? Let me know if you are a midwifery student who does not get this area covered.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

North Staffordshire Post Graduate Education

One of my colleagues, Dr Bernard Shevlin, from the Professional Speakers Association, invited me along to one of the sessions he organises for doctors in North Staffordshire. The speaker was a charming gentleman from Brooklyn, New York. He was Professor Sadowsky, who is a GP and health educator. I wanted to go as I am keen to speak in the USA and wanted to learn about the system over there.
The Professor talked about recent advances that have changed his practice. He spoke about a whole range of illnesses and recent progress in research which has impacted upon his delivery of health care. One fact which amazed me was that 80% of US medics still use paper records use a paper system as the government will not fund a national system of IT.
More of these meetings can be found at

Dr Shevlin has also just published an excellent book to help children come to terms with various health problems ranging from warts to bed wetting! Have a look at

It has some charming stories about a boy and an elephant.

I wish you every success with it Bernard!

MATCH newsletter

In recent weeks I have been in contact with a charity called MATCH - mothers apart from their children. I felt honoured to be in their newsletter this summer, talking about PND. MATCH can be found at

Their aim is to offer non-judgemental emotional support to mothers all over the world who are apart from their child for one or many complex reasons.
If you know anyone who would find this support useful please let them know about it.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Riga, Latvia, with Forward Ladies

An unexpected twist of fate lead to me being able to go to Riga with the group from Forward Ladies, at the last minute!
Unlike Brussels and Milan where I had attended language and taster sessions on the countries, Latvia was completely new to me. The most I had heard of was their country being in the Eurovision Song contest! Yet on my return I can categorically say I was impressed by it the most.
The airport is just outside the city and we were soon at our hotel - the SAS Radisson on the banks of the river. We met with some ladies from the Latvian Investment and Development Agency. Almost immediately we could see the possibilities of trading with Latvia. As one of the newer members of the EU they are very keen to develop their country. One key area of development is in the beauty industry! Later we went to the beautiful Reval hotel for a dinner with The Latvian Business Women and International Women's Club. The level of English spoken was extremely high and made me feel very stupid for not even being able to say hello in Latvian. The ladies were very interested in us and we learnt that in Latvia the women are the stronger sex! They are actually far more evident in managerial jobs than elsewhere in the EU. The view from the top of the hotel was spectacular.
Next morning I went to the British embassy and met one of the team from UKTI. She confirmed that it would be possible for me to get speaking engagements there and also in the other Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania. Again postnatal depression is a taboo there and at most sufferers may get anti-depressants but there are no support groups or specialist centres.
As a group we had a wonderful walking tour of the city and learnt a great deal about the history. It is a beautiful city and extremely clean with some wonderful architecture. One sad fact is that it has become a magnet for hen and stag weekends for Brits and the city is plagued at weekends by drunken groups and people urinating on their statues. It was good to show the Latvians that we are not all like that!
We also were entertained by some ladies form the Business and Professional Women's Club in Latvia who told us more about the country and gave us all a small gift a pretty posy of flowers.
See their site here:-

We were entertained the second evening by the British Chamber of Commerce Latvia at Hotel de Rome. It was a fantastic evening with many people there - also a group from Coventry, UK. We were able to network and listened to various speakers.
A dynamic lady called Ingrida Bluma, formerly of HansaBanka spoke about her new mission in education. She made us laugh with her comment 'Women have to be twice as diligent to succeed in Latvia above men - but it's not that difficult!' They did have a well-loved female President who only stepped down due to state rules of office.
We also heard from Ieva Plaude who has built a business empire in Latvia called Kolonna. Thank you for making us so welcome!
The next day I had an appointment due to a lady I had spoken to on the first evening. I met with a lovely lady who amazingly owns the only private maternity clinic in Latvia with her mother and their second business is a publishing house! After a long converstaion we decide that I would write articles for two of their journals - one on maternity issues and another called 40plus for ladies who are now starting new businesses, etc. Our plan is to print my story and ask for Latvian women to share their stories of PND across the generations. This may form a new book and will aslo show that by leaving sufferers of PND it can lead to years of poor mental health. This should give us evidence to present to the EU to push for more services. They are also in touch with a TV company who have expressed interest in making a programme! So considering I wasn't supposed to be on this trip it was a great success!

Thank you to for making this possible!

I am sure I shall be back in Latvia soon!

It was good to attend the debrief of the European trip in Leeds today and catch up on the positive outcomes of the visits.