Midwife of the Year

There are thousands of excellent midwives working in the NHS and independent sector. However, a select few stand out as truly exceptional. Launched in 2023 and set to become one of our most prestigious annual awards, the Midwife of the Year category aims to recognise an individual working in the NHS or independent sector who has gone above and beyond what is expected of them in their day-to-day role and have truly made a difference. Candidates can be at any stage in their midwifery career, but should have undertaken a piece of work or delivered a service improvement on their own initiative that has required inspiration, determination and creativity. It must have had tangible positive outcomes, such as demonstrable improvements in patient care or in the effectiveness of service provision. We welcome entries from candidates themselves or nominations from those who wish to highlight a nurse who they believe merits this recognition.

Waheeda Abbas
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

I have made a difference in reducing the inequalities in the black and South Asian areas by introducing new innovative ideas of a multilingual padlet for patients to access. Each pregnant person will receive a link or a QR code for the multilingual padlet. Many trusts have now embedded this multilingual tablet within their maternity units and found it a valuable resource for their service users, reducing the need for interpreters to explain the information given in leaflets. The Padlet supports underserved communities in maternity care by providing essential information, resources, and support in languages that are accessible and culturally relevant to them. By having Language Accessibility. to communities who speak languages other than English as their primary language. offers information in languages commonly spoken within these communities, ensuring that language barriers don't hinder access to vital maternity care information. By providing information in multiple languages, a Padlet caters to the specific cultural needs and preferences of Black and South Asian women. This includes information on traditional practices, dietary guidelines, and cultural rituals surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. The padlet empowers women to make informed decisions about their maternity care. By offering resources in various languages, a multilingual Padlet empowers Black and South Asian women to advocate for their needs, navigate the healthcare system more effectively, and actively participate in their prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum experiences. Language barriers often contribute to disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. This multilingual Padlet is a game-changer. By providing information in multiple languages, it helps bridge these gaps, ensuring that Black and South Asian women have equitable access to maternity care resources and support regardless of their language proficiency. This is not just about language, but about creating a more inclusive and accessible healthcare system for all.

Samantha Behagg
West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Samantha Behagg is the Lead Bereavement Midwife at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Sam is an exemplary candidate for this award, epitomising dedication, and compassion in her care for bereaved families across antenatal, labour, and postnatal settings. Sam provides outstanding support, guiding families through the most challenging times with empathy and expertise. What sets Sam apart is her extraordinary ability to create a safe and comforting environment for families facing unimaginable loss. She possesses a unique talent for empowering families, helping them navigate difficult decisions with grace and resilience. In moments of profound grief, Sam’s presence transforms despair into cherished memories, leaving a lasting impact on those she serves. She has led a remarkable transformation of the bereavement service, providing a standard of excellence that inspires pride in the entire community.

Laura Bridle
South East London Integrated Care System

Laura Bridle should be considered for the award due to her outstanding contributions to Maternal Mental Health in HELIX (Healing Experiences of Loss & Trauma) since she began as a midwife in October 2022. Laura has demonstrated remarkable initiative by spearheading a service improvement project, showcasing her inspiration, determination, and creativity. Her efforts have led to tangible positive outcomes, significantly enhancing both patient care and the effectiveness of service provision. Laura's initiative involved a comprehensive assessment of current maternal mental health services for women and birthing people who experience loss or trauma, identifying key areas that required enhancement. She designed and implemented a strategic plan to address these gaps, improving access to mental health support for expectant and new mothers. This plan included the development of specialized training programs for midwives to recognize better and address mental health issues, the establishment of a support network for mothers experiencing mental health challenges due to loss and trauma, and the creation of educational materials to raise awareness about maternal mental health. One of Laura's most notable outcomes is the demonstrable improvement in patient care. Additionally, the service improvement has fostered a more collaborative environment among healthcare providers, enhancing the overall effectiveness of service provision and instilling a sense of optimism for the future of maternal mental health care. Laura’s dedication to maternal tentative approach and unwavering commitment to improving patient care, coupled with her innovation, make her a deserving candidate for this award. Her work not only benefits the patients she directly interacts with but also sets a benchmark for excellence in maternal mental health services, inspiring her colleagues and significantly contributing to the broader healthcare community.

Sarah Jamieson
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust

Sarah commenced in post as Director of Midwifery in November 2021 and at that time our maternity service faced a number of significant challenges in terms of staffing deficits and failure to achieve a number of key quality indicators. She quickly determined that we were circa 75 midwives short of the recommended staffing levels; developed workstreams to improve the morale/culture within the team and utilised improvement methodology to address the failing performance indicators. During 2022 Sarah had a clear plan of improvement work underway and was working incredibly hard to attract and retain staff -our turnover was 10-11% at the time. We then had a CQC inspection which resulted in a downgrade of SAFE domain and the service was put into a regional support programme. This was devastating to the team, especially as improvement projects were underway but improvements were not at the stage of being sustained. Through her outstanding leadership Sarah has transformed this service. She leads with care and compassion and in a national context of midwifery vacancies and discord she has created an environment where her team are thriving, and we actually have people seeking employment here at UHNM based on the positive culture and reputation she has created. Sarah has created an environment where staff feel able to safely challenge and are supported to drive improvements that they believe will improve patient outcomes and experience, and staff experience.. Her leadership and extraordinary improvement results have also supported Sarah to recently be appointed to a National Maternity Improvement Advisor role part time which I am so thrilled about -absolutely deserved recognition for both Sarah and the improvements she has led at the Trust.

Cerian Llewelyn
Hywel Dda University Health Board

Cerian is an exemplary midwife who embodies compassion and collaboration to make her a pioneer in the field. Although she is fairly early in her leadership journey her accomplishments surpass many peoples' whole career achievements. Cerian is a natural leader who prioritises safety and equity in maternity services and ensures that the culture and environment promote learning and psychological safety for staff. In her role as lead midwife for Clinical Risk and Governance she has led on a quality improvement project to improve the workplace culture and perception of clinical risk. This project has resulted in significant and sustained improvements in the rates of stillbirth and perinatal brain injury. This work has been awarded an HSJ Patient Safety Award and NHS Wales Award in 2023. The project has also been acknowledged as a Bright Spot in the Maternity and Neonatal Safety Support Programme Cymru. Cerian has also been given the honour of walking in the procession for the Service to Commemorate the life of Florence Nightingale in Westminster Abbey as a Florence Nightingale Foundation Scholarship alumna; and is the only midwifery representative for the May 2024 ceremony. Cerian has a passion for teaching and empowering the next generation of clinicians. She has been awarded Lecture of the Year whilst working in Swansea University and continues to teach midwifery students about Just Culture and System -Based learning from incident reviews. Cerian is determined to strive towards equity for marginalised groups. Cerian was instrumental in the development of the Maternity Disability Passport, which has now been incorporated into the All Wales Maternity Record, and the development of a Clinical Guideline to support holistic care and reasonable adjustments for service users with learning disabilities. This work has been awarded the Chief Nursing Officer and Royal College of Midwives Quality Improvement Award for 2024.

Hannah O'Donnell
Croydon University Hospital NHS Trust

Hannah’s efforts in updating maternity and neonatal guidelines are a testament to her dedication and expertise, making her a strong contender for the Midwife of the Year award. Her work has been pivotal in ensuring that the guidelines reflect the latest evidence-based practices, which is crucial for the safety and well-being of both mothers and newborns. By meticulously auditing and revising the guidelines, Hannah has contributed to a framework that supports midwives in providing high-quality care. Her focus on facilitating choice and promoting informed decision-making aligns with the core values of modern midwifery1. Moreover, her involvement in risk management and her proactive approach to integrating recommendations from serious incidents into quality improvement strategies demonstrate her commitment to clinical excellence. Hannah’s contributions have not only enhanced the care provided at her own institution but also set a benchmark for maternity services elsewhere. Her work ensures that the guidelines are not static documents but dynamic resources that evolve with the growing body of knowledge and changing healthcare landscapes. In summary, Hannah’s meticulous work in updating maternity and neonatal guidelines, her advocacy for evidence-based practice, and her dedication to quality improvement are just a few reasons why she would be a deserving recipient of the Midwife of the Year award. Her efforts have had a profound impact on the field of midwifery, making her an exemplary candidate for this recognition.

Sally Pezaro
Coventry University

I have been inspired and encouraged not only by this year’s Nursing Times Student Midwife of the Year, but also colleagues who have worked with me to achieve real impact in midwifery to apply to become the Nursing Times 'Midwife of the Year' 2024. Some have supplied supportive references as evidence of this. My career has not always been easy, as over 10 years ago I lost my fitness to practice by reason of ill health and subsequently regained it having learned to effectively manage two difficult health diagnoses. Drawing from this experience I have dedicated the last 10 years of my career (since 2014) to research enhancing the wellbeing of midwives. This is reflected in many of my outputs and publications - https://pureportal.coventry.ac.uk/en/persons/sally-pezaro As well as dedicating myself to research furthering the midwifery profession (including workforce wellbeing), I have also been inspired to reduce inequalities in perinatal services and work to improve care for those childbearing with hypermobile Elhers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD) in particular. Now, I am finally seeing my efforts culminate in phenomenal outcomes this 2024. Indeed, this year marks a true high point in my career, namely in leading the following international projects to the benefit of childbearing people and colleagues: 1. Expert co-creation of evidence-based clinical guidelines for the management of childbearing with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and hypermobility spectrum disorders. 2. An international appreciative inquiry identifying the characteristics of strong midwifery leaders and enablers of strong midwifery leadership 3. A guide for gender inclusive language in midwifery and perinatal services 4. A theoretically driven argument for reproductive justice worldwide Winning this award would not only elevate the importance of this work and the people it serves but demonstrate how midwives can overcome adversity in their careers to thrive in their passions.

Laura Spence

Laura Spence has made a remarkable impact in the field of midwifery, emerging as a transformative force through her innovative and ground-breaking work in neuro-affirmative perinatal care. Her pioneering practices have redefined the standards of maternal healthcare, positioning her as a pioneer and champion of compassionate and inclusive midwifery care. As the visionary founder of NeuroNatal®, Laura has dedicated her career to advancing the quality of care for marginalised communities. Her unparalleled commitment to this cause has been exceptional, and her educational platform, NeuroNatal®, has been instrumental in training healthcare professionals in neuro-affirmative perinatal care. Laura's advocacy for the neurodivergent community, particularly in the realm of maternal healthcare, has been truly remarkable. She has collaborated with organisations such as Wellbeing of Women and Make Birth Better to amplify the voices of those who are often overlooked, ensuring they receive the representation they deserve. Her tireless efforts have focused on addressing the inequalities within the maternity care system, and she has been a key player in driving positive change in this area. Thanks to her dedication and unwavering commitment, the neurodivergent community has gained greater visibility and support, and their unique needs have been brought to the forefront of discussions around maternal healthcare. Laura's work has been truly transformative, and she has left an indelible mark on the field of midwifery.