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Professor Helen Bedford

Professor Helen Bedford

Professor of Children's Health

Population, Policy & Practice Dept

UCL GOS Institute of Child Health

Joined UCL
1st Apr 2002

Research summary

My research programme focusses on child public health issues and in particular childhood vaccination. This includes the determinants of vaccine uptake including vaccine hesitancy. My research has included parents', health professionals'and young peoples' attitudes and knowledge towards established, new and potential vaccines as well as new uses for established vaccines such as in pregnant women. This research has informed national and local policy and practice.

I am chair of the Personal Child Health Record group. This multi-disciplinary group is hosted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and oversees the development and content of the National Standard PCHR or red book. The red book is issued to parents for all new babies in the UK. I have also led studies looking at parents' use and views of the PCHR. In my capacity as chair of the PCHR committee, I joined the RCPCH group convened to develop new growth charts based on data gathered by the World Health Organization. These charts (UK-WHO) were launched in 2009 and are used widely.

Teaching summary

I am co director (Education) at GOS ICH and a director of the MSc in Paediatrics and Child Health based at UCL Institute of Child Health. I teach and supervise on many other UCL undergraduate and post graduate programmes. 

External to UCL, I contribute to immunisation teaching and training for primary care and other staff in health trusts and other courses and conferences. I co-authored the e-learning for health immunisation programme https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/immunisation/

Education

University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Certificate in Learning and Teaching in HE Part 2 |
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Certificate in Learning and Teaching in HE Part 1 |
University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2000
Chelsea College
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1986
Other qualifications at first-degree level (including professional), Registered General Nurse | 1980
South Bank Polytechnic
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1980

Biography

My background is nursing and health visiting. After gaining an MSc at Kings College London, I joined the Institute of Child Health in 1986 to work with Professor Catherine Peckham on the National Immunisation study "The Peckham Report". This large national study investigated professionals' and parents' knowledge of and attitudes to measles and pertussis vaccine at a time when uptake of these two vaccines was poor. 


In 2000 I completed a PhD: "Meningitis in Infancy: A five Year follow up" 2002) supervised by Professor Peckham. Subsequently, the main focus of my research has been childhood immunisation. This includes the determinants of vaccine uptake using cohort data and studies exploring parents', health professionals' and young peoples' knowledge and attitudes to established, new and proposed vaccines and new uses for established vaccines.Investigating inequalities in vaccine uptake has included a large study among Gypsy Travellers. 


As a vaccine communicator, I am frequently interviewed for national and International news and current affairs programmes on the TV,radio and other media about vaccination issues working closely with the Science Media Centre since its inception. I advise advise a wide range of other researchers, organisations and groups on vaccine related issues and am an expert spokesperson for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. I acted as expert advisor to NICE in the development of their guidance on reducing differences in vaccine uptake in the under 19s https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph21 and am a committee member developing guidance on vaccine uptake in the general population https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-ng10139 I have given written and oral evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Vaccination. 

Selected Media 

BBC Radio 4: The Moral Maze - 20th November 2020 – The Morality of Vaccination https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000pgjp 

BBC Radio 4: Woman’s Hour - 7th November 2019 – Vaccination – Your Questions Answeredhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0009ywt 

BBC Radio 4: Woman’s Hour -15th February 2019 – The anti-vaxx movement and a spike in measles cases https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0002gqbBBC2: 

BBC2: Newsnight – 11th September 2019 – Why vaccination uptake rates are falling and how to respond https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0008cb7

BBC Radio 4: The Long View - March 2002 https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/longview_20020319.shtml

Publications