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Midwifery Sector News

Sign our petition! A Chief Midwifery Officer for every country

Following the appointment of Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE as the first Chief Midwifery Officer for England, an international group of midwives are calling on every country to follow suit, including each of the devolved governments in the UK.

When announcing the first occupant of the England wide role, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said the position was created to “to improve care for new and expectant mothers and their children and promote safer births”. This leadership is needed everywhere.

2020 has been designated as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” and is being championed by the World Health Organisation as a celebration of 200 years since the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

Supporters of the campaign will be asked to sign a petition, write to members of their respective parliaments and lobby health decision-makers across the globe.

The focus appointing a Chief Midwifery Officer for each country’s health service represents is needed the world over. The case for investment in midwifery leadership and support for the maternity workforce is compelling.Frances McConville, the Midwifery Advisor at the World Health Organisation (WHO), told the International Maternity Expo (6mins 25 secs), in November:

“When Midwives are educated to international standards, and midwifery includes family planning, it [can] avert more than 80% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths.”

And the need is across the globe, and income scale. Neel Shah, Obstetrician and Director Delivery Decisions Initiative, Harvard says (2mins 20secs) of American women today:

“she is 50% more likely than her own mother to die in childbirth”. 

This is shocking and happening on our watch.

Discussing the campaign Dr Jenny Hall, advisor to the Maternity & Midwifery Forum and fellow of the Royal College of Midwives said:

“A year ago, the UK’s Department for Health took a lead and created a Chief Midwifery Officer for England. This was important because good maternity services with strong midwifery leadership save lives, improve equality of access and reduce morbidity for mothers and children. This is the kind of best practice we want to see rolled out elsewhere. Sign our petition today.”

Judy Evans, Practising nurse and midwife and a member of the RCN Midwifery Forum Committee said:

“It is only right that the modern founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale, is honoured by the World Health Organisation with the ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’. This is a real opportunity to transform midwifery leadership and honour midwives who work tirelessly across the globe.”

Sue Macdonald, Midwifery Consultant, Chair of Maternity & Midwifery Festivals and Co-editor of Mayes Midwifery Textbook for Midwives said:

“Good midwifery care does not just happen – it needs to be led, resourced and supported by the rest of the healthcare sector. The role of a Chief Midwifery Officer is both a focus point and a champion for developing governance, education, leadership and practice for midwives to produce the best health outcomes for mothers and babies. This campaign has my full support.”

Sign our petition today.

We the undersigned support the World Health Organisation’s “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”, wish to see greater focus on the improved delivery of midwifery globally and call on all countries to create a Chief Midwifery Officer for each country.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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