A HEALTH visitor from the Settle area is retiring after serving her community for nearly 30 years.

Margaret Egan, a specialist community practitioner/health visitor, has been based at Settle Health Centre working with Townhead Surgery, since 1991, and retired from her job last week.

“The root of health visiting is to provide support, give information, promote healthy lifestyles and monitor child development,” said Margaret. “I hope that I have been able to fulfil this in the eyes of the families and children that I have had the privilege to work with over the years.

“Families face different challenges from my early days in health visiting, but still need the same support and guidance that health visiting can provide.

“There is no substitute for a face to face home visit or clinic contact to effectively do this.

“My passion and commitment to health visiting is probably stronger now than at the start of my career, as I have learned so much from the families and young people that I have worked with.

“Increasingly, I have been visiting the babies of youngsters who were “my babies” back in the 1990s. It is rare to have that longevity of care. It is lovely to be remembered by parents and grandparents alike.

“Spending so much time in one location has meant contact with lots of people who also provide services for children in North Craven and many of them have also been working in this area for a long period of time too, giving a stability and local perspective to the services.

“I must give my two health visitor colleagues at Settle, Kate Wild and Becky Westwood, a special mention as we have collectively given over 65 years’ service to North Craven.”

Kate said: “Margaret is very supportive, clear thinking, articulate, quick witted and has a good head on her shoulders.

“She’s got a great sense of humour and has given herself enthusiastically to all parts of the job.

“Margaret has always been there supporting her colleagues and families through the good times and the difficult times.”

Margaret qualified as a health visitor in 1978, and worked in rural Pembrokeshire for a few years before taking a break to have children and moving to Yorkshire.

She returned to health visiting in Skipton in 1990 working with the Dyneley House Surgery and was employed by Airedale Health Authority before going to Settle in 1991.

Margaret said: “In 1990 most of the community health staff worked for Airedale Health Authority and the working bonds formed then remain, even though now we work for three different Trusts, all with their own systems and structures.

“Our Christmas parties, nights out and canoeing trips are legendary.

“I have had eight different employers as a result of NHS policy changes, one new chair, one new desk and eight lease cars.

“On qualifying my role was ‘cradle to grave’ but each change of employer brought about changes which altered that role significantly.”

One of the first significant changes was the separation into adult and children’s services, which she said took away health visitor involvement in cardiac rehabilitation, some mental health, family planning and elderly screening.

The next significant change came in 2015 when the preschool and school age population were separated into 0 to 5 and 5 to 19 ages service.

Then health visiting and school nursing services were commissioned by North Yorkshire County Council from Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.

Margaret said: “At the stroke of a pen the school age population of Craven, particularly North Craven, lost a professional, experienced knowledgeable local school nursing service. That service has not been satisfactorily replaced.

“Our time in schools was worthwhile, fun, creative and innovative. I am glad to have had that experience.”

She had two spells in management in 1996 and 1999, and was actively involved in training and employing nurses, health visitors, assistant practitioners and administrative staff.

Margaret said: “It has been pleasing to see so many of them go on to develop successful careers, some still in Craven and others in neighbouring NHS Trusts.

“My heart lies with face to face contact with families and children and I returned to clinical care in 2000.”

“She very much flies the flag for health visitors,” said Kate, who added: “There’s been so much change over the years. The job we took when we first started no longer exists.

“But she’s always been loyal to the principles of health visiting, which is supporting children and families.”

Margaret and her colleagues have always enjoyed the environment, beauty and people of the Craven area.

Margaret added: “I have been lucky to work in a lovely area, with an active community and with great people.

“I would like thanks all my colleagues, past and present, for my gifts, their good wishes and their company for my retirement celebrations. I will miss them all.”