Bliss Baby Charter conference 2019 speakers

Please read more about the expert speakers who spoke at the Bliss Baby Charter Conference in September 2019.

Debbie Bezalel oversees research, information and support for parents from Bliss volunteers, as well as training and development work with health professionals through the Bliss Baby Charter. Debbie also represents parents' views on several NHS working groups, such as the Neonatal Critical Care Clinical Reference Group. Prior to joining Bliss, Debbie was Director of Community and Voluntary Services at Watford & Three Rivers Trust, Head of Information and Support Services at Target Ovarian Cancer and spent three years as a Regional Development Officer at The Lullaby Trust. She is also a Trustee of The Centre for Autism & ADHD Support.

Helen Wildbore is Healthcare Engagement Manager at Bliss. She oversees the work of the Bliss Baby Charter team, working with neonatal healthcare professionals across the UK to embed family-centred care. Helen is a member of the National Discharge Planning Group and the National Bereavement Care Pathway Core Group on behalf of Bliss Scotland. She has more than a 15 years’ experience of working in academic and third sector organisations. Helen was previously Policy and Programmes Manager at the British Institute of Human Rights, specialising in using rights-based approaches to improve health services.

Chelsie Letts leads on the delivery and direction of the Bliss Baby Charter. This includes supporting healthcare professionals undertaking the Bliss Baby Charter, coordinating assessment visits and ensuring that all neonatal stakeholders are engaged with the Bliss Baby Charter. Chelsie’s background was originally fundraising focused, with roles at Bliss and Breast Cancer Haven.

Andy Stevens is an experienced Project and Change Manager who has implemented a variety of change and process improvement programmes in the non-profit sector. These have ranged from planning and delivering a growth strategy, system implementation, and adapting organisations in response to changing demands and funding. The constant across this work has been supporting organisations through these periods of change.

Kirstie Campbell has led on Maternal and Infant Health Policy in the Scottish Government since late 2014. She has worked for the Scottish Government for 19 years in a variety of different roles and prior to that worked for the UK Department of Trade and Industry and in the private sector.

Mary Palframan is a Family Support Sister at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. Mary has been a Neonatal Nurse for 30 years working both in the UK and abroad. She has held many roles in this time including deputy ward sister and clinical nurse educator for transport. Mary has been in her current role as Family Support Sister for five years.

Mel Ibrahim is mum to Tahlia and Amaya. Amaya was born in 2016, at 24 weeks, weighing 1lb 6oz. The family spent 19 weeks at Nottingham’s QMC neonatal unit. During this time Mel struggled with severe anxiety and panic attacks. Although the neonatal team were dedicated and supportive to the family there were gaps in specialist services to support the mental health needs of families. Mel approached the family support sister to raise money to provide emotional support on the unit. Mel has since spoken at the NHSE Perinatal Mental Health event and developed a mental health podcast and blog with Bliss.

Sarah Roberts is acting Senior Sister & Developmental Care Lead, NNU, Queens Hospital Burton on Trent. Sarah qualified in neonatal speciality in 1989, working within neonates since, alongside practice nursing and school nursing. Due to family commitments she had a break away from nursing between 2006 and 2014, completing a Return to Practice module with the University of Wolverhampton in March 2015. She is the Developmental Care Lead on the Unit and is a champion of the principals of Family Centred Care.

Dr Neil Patel is a Consultant Neonatologist at the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow. He leads HUG (Helping Us Grow Group), a collaboration of staff and families working together to support families to care for their babies in the neonatal unit. Empowerment of parents and staff of all backgrounds and grades has been key to his team’s success. Neil is a Scottish Quality and Safety Fellow and a Senior NHS Research Scotland (NRS) Fellow, and his interests include quality improvement, staff and family empowerment, neonatal haemodynamics and non-invasive monitoring.

Ros Montgomerie is a Senior Charge Nurse in the NICU at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow. She is involved in the Helping Us Grow group (HUG) which supports all members of the multidisciplinary team and families in providing a holistic approach to the care of babies in the unit. The aim of the HUG group is to ensure that parents have the best possible support and the confidence to care for their babies during their stay in NICU and on their discharge to home.

Michele Upton MSc, RGN, RM ENB 405 works as Head of Maternity and Neonatal Transformation Programmes in NHS Improvement. She is a registered general nurse, midwife and neonatal nurse with extensive experience in patient safety and quality improvement. Her role at NHS Improvement is varied and includes leadership of Workstream 2 – Improving Practice for Safer Care - of the Maternity Transformation Programme. She also advises and leads the delivery of new maternity and neonatal policy initiatives. She is best known for her work on ATAIN - an exemplar of collaboration and sustainable change.

Lady Sarra Hoy was a senior lawyer before she gave birth to her first child, Callum who was born at 29 weeks weighing 2lb 2oz. Sarra first met Callum in NICU when he was one day old. He spent the first 60 days of his life in neonatal care. Since then Sarra went on to have a second child, Chloe, born at 36 weeks. In 2017 Sarra Hoy became the first Celebrity Ambassador for Bliss Scotland. She has brought an enormous amount of awareness to the cause – especially to Bliss Scotland’s campaign work.

Francesca Segal is an award-winning writer and journalist. Her debut novel, The Innocents, won the Costa First Novel Award, the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the Sami Rohr Prize, and a Betty Trask Award. Her second novel, The Awkward Age (‘smart soulful and compelling’ – Nick Hornby) was published in 2017. She lives in London with her husband and twin girls.