Fellows robes

Professor Viv Bennett

Oration

Presented by: Rebecca Burke-Sharples

Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Professor Viv Bennett for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.

Professor Bennett is the Department of Health’s Director of Nursing and the Government’s Principal Advisor on Public Health Nursing, playing an integral role in providing high quality and independent nursing advice to ministers and officials on policy issues and public health nursing. She is also Director of Nursing at Public Health England and therefore leads the national Health Visiting Programme and School Nurse Development Programme. 

Professor Bennett has reached the peak of her profession having enjoyed a long and industrious career in nursing. She trained as a nurse in Oxford in 1976 and worked in children’s nursing before training as a health visitor in Oxford in the early 1980s. While studying for a BA and then a Masters degree in health and social policy, she worked as a health visitor and research health visitor in Oxford.

Professor Bennett has worked in a number of NHS operational management and commissioning roles and undertaken nurse executive roles. She has also worked for the Strategic Health Authority and local government on projects relating to nursing strategy and services for children and families.

She had led many nationally significant programmes including the ‘Best Start for All Our Children’ which has been instrumental in raising the take-up of the measles, mumps and rubella immunisation for all children at five years, as well as increasing the scope of new-born bloodspot screening to include four new inherited metabolic disorders.

Perhaps due to her earned escalation through the nursing profession, Professor Bennett has what is now often considered an unusual management style in that she consults from the bottom up, recognising and appreciating the experience and expertise of all involved in a project and ensuring they are referred to throughout the process. It is a strategy which has resulted in great success. 

As Michelle Laing, Professional Lead for Adult Nursing at LJMU, comments: 

"Viv is leading all of the changes in health visiting, midwifery and community nursing to improve care delivery across the country and, thanks to her openness and commitment to getting it right at grass roots level, staff here, who are responsible for the tutorship of many of the country’s student nurses and midwives, have had an active involvement in developing her vision and strategy."

Professor Bennett was also involved in the initial phases of LJMU’s Carers Champions project, launched last year, which aims to raise further awareness of the needs of carers and explore how nurses can best support them. The project has received widespread praise and has led to nursing staff pledging their help and assistance to carers, resulting in carers feeling more able to cope with the demands of their roles and reducing the number of hospital admissions.

Professor Bennett further demonstrates the inclusive style of her work by recognising the impact and reach of social media, which she champions, and she regularly communicates with NHS stakeholders including professionals, partners and members of the public, via blogs and twitter to ensure they are aware of the latest developments and updates.

She continues to be an inspiration to nurses at every stage throughout the profession and, through her dedication to succeed, her obvious talent and her sustained contribution to nursing, she personifies the LJMU ethos to Dream, Plan, Achieve.

Thus, it is with great pleasure that I present Professor Viv Bennett, for admission to our highest honour, as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.