Speech consultant awarded OBE 

17/06/2015 00:00 
The Queen’s Birthday Honours List is a cause for celebration at UCLH this week as the roll call of names included an OBE for our consultant speech and language therapist Gillian Kennedy who works with premature babies and other vulnerable infants needing extra care.

Gillian, who was awarded the honour for her work in helping babies and their families establish feeding and promoting neuro-development, is a national and international adviser and educator in the field.

As one of only two specialist trainers in the UK (NIDCAP - Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program), she trains healthcare staff to recognise the importance of non-verbal communication in infants.

When applied clinically, these non-verbal signals - such as skin colour, breathing patterns, jerky limb movements - can help promote physiological stability in the baby, including comfortable digestion which helps progression to oral feeding.  Diagnostically, feeding problems can be identified and appropriate management strategies introduced.

Gillian, who joined UCLH 20 years ago, said:  “I am surprised and excited to have been awarded this honour.  I love my work and it is as much a passion now as it was when my career began.  The support we give to babies soon after birth is so important. It fosters the relationship between the baby and their parents  and also encourages  appropriate connections in the brain which have an impact on the baby’s potential as a person in the years ahead.”

Previously, she worked as a speech and language therapist with adult neurological patients at other hospitals across UK before transferring her skills and expertise. Much of Gillian’s work is based at the neonatal unit in The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing at University College Hospital, part of UCLH.

Sir Robert Naylor, UCLH chief executive, said: “I am delighted that Gillian's fantastic contribution has been recognised. I am sure that everyone at UCLH  will join me in congratulating Gill.”

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