Shortlisted for the 2023 HSJ Awards

ICON, in partnership with the armed forces charity SSAFA, is delighted to announce that the ICON programme has been shortlisted for the Military and Civilian Health Partnership Award at the HSJ Awards, recognising an outstanding contribution to healthcare and securing a place at the prestigious awards ceremony later this year.

A ‘record-breaking’ 1456 entries have been received for this year’s Awards, with 223 projects and individuals reaching the final shortlist, making it the biggest awards programme in the award’s 43-year history. The high volume – and exceptional quality – of applications once again mirrors the impressive levels of innovation and care continually being developed within the UK’s healthcare networks.

Following the thorough judging process, ICON: Babies Cry; You Can Cope was shortlisted, ahead of the official awards ceremony to be held later this year (November 16th), with its partnership with SSAFA the Armed Forces charity standing out as a real ‘success story’ worthy of a prized place on the panel’s shortlist.

ICON is a national program that helps stop serious head injuries in babies. When caregivers get frustrated because of non-stop crying, it can lead to harmful head injuries in infants. Simple messages from ICON support families and prevent these bad outcomes for both the child and their loved ones. This is especially important for families in the armed forces who often feel alone. The program is for all parents, but it focuses on dads and male caregivers. This is because most cases of these injuries are caused by males. There are about 130,000 men in the armed forces who are fathers or taking care of kids.

ICON Founder Dr Sue Smith, said: “This really is such exciting news! Being shortlisted for the Military and Civilian Health Partnership Award in the HSJ Awards 2023 will be a huge boost for our dedicated and hard-working team, especially in a year when the competition was so tough with an unprecedented volume of entries from so many other equally deserving Trusts and individuals.

“Whatever the result ‘on the night’, we already feel like winners for getting this far and are so proud to have the opportunity to share our success with colleagues from across the entire sector, as well as showcasing everything we’ve learnt through implementing our project.”

The ICON programme delivers four simple messages before the birth and in the first few months of a baby’s life:

I – Infant crying is normal
C – Comforting methods can help
O – It’s OK to walk away
N – Never, ever shake a baby

ICON national steering group chair Jane Scattergood said: “Brain trauma, caused when a baby is hit or shaken, is the most common severe injury in babies, according to NHS figures. This form of abuse affects around 35 in 100,000 babies and is almost completely preventable. It can lead to lifelong learning, visual and hearing disabilities, and in about 20% of cases, the baby dies.

“The ICON message is so important in helping people cope better when their baby won’t settle and educate on soothing techniques.  It is also important to normalise crying and reduce the guilt associated with it. Remember: babies cry, you can cope!”

SSAFA named nurse for safeguarding Jane Bojdys, said: “Most people want to be the best parents possible to their child, but every parent can resonate with how much stress the crying of a small baby can create.  SSAFA Community Health acknowledges that it is these things that make parenting difficult and can create safeguarding situations.  Many of us will have seen news reports of babies and toddlers being shaken to death or left permanently disabled by such actions, and the conversations relating to the causes and in general the main perpetrators are challenging and uncomfortable. 

“However, they should be because the lives and welfare of the youngest people in our communities, whether military or civilian, are at stake. 

“We were privileged to support the MOD Armed Forces Families and Safeguarding Team in their ICON campaign and to work with Dr Sue Smith and her team to roll ICON out across our community health services.  ICON has been shown to significantly reduce abusive head injury and validates the important role Dads play in parenting.  In an ideal world, there would be no need for programmes to reduce and end the devastating practice of shaking a baby, but this is not an ideal world and so, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity – which has partnered with ICON – is full-square behind ICON with its programme and message of ‘Babies cry; you can cope,’ and its shortlisting in the 2023 HSJ Awards.”   

The selected winners will be announced during the awards ceremony at Evolution London on November 16th 2023.