An occupational therapist from Barnet Hospital has been given an international award for her work in supporting infant, families and staff in neonatal care. 

Emily Hills, who works at the Starlight neonatal unit at Barnet Hospital, was presented with an ‘excellence in clinical practice’ award at the National Association of Neonatal Therapist (NANT) conference last month.  

The annual NANT conference was held this year in Florida, USA and hosted over 600 therapists from around the world. Emily was selected to give a lecture on her work on sensory development and skin-to-skin contact in babies at the conference, and ended up leaving with an award in hand. 

At the Starlight neonatal unit, Emily specialises in supporting parent-infant bonding through specialist neurobehavioural assessments, developmental care and pain management, ensuring babies’ healthy development and the emotional wellbeing of families. 

Her work on neonatal occupational therapy has been published widely, and she is also a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ guidelines development and review group, helping produce clinical practice guidelines.  

She said: “I had no idea anyone had nominated me, so it was very exciting. I have to share this award with the Starlight neonatal team as this really is for everyone at the unit. The team are always thinking outside the box and doing everything they can to support the families that come to us. It’s like one big family, and everyone has been very supportive. I’m very grateful to be working where I am.” 

Eleftheria Kosmidou, head of children and young people’s therapies, said: "We are very proud of Emily for receiving this award. She is an amazing clinician dedicated to excellence in research and clinical practice and passionate about developmental care in neonatal units and early intervention.”