Going Forward with #PerceptionsOfMidwifery

Posted by: NHS Horizons - Posted on:

Originally published by Bev Matthews – 27th September 2019

Midwives have a significant contribution to make in delivering 21st Century care as set out in the Interim NHS People Plan. Much depends on our ability to mobilise and engage midwives to play an active role in shaping the future, creating a workforce that positions midwifery as a high-status, high-value career of choice. 

Our Chief Midwifery Officer Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent has set #PerceptionsOfMidwifery as a key priority going forwards as described in this message to ambassadors

Background to Transforming Perceptions of Midwifery 

Transforming Perceptions of Midwifery was originally launched in January 2019 at an accelerated design event facilitated by NHS Horizons. 76% of attendees were midwives, with the remainder in associated roles attending for the day as “critical friends”. The event was livestreamed to a further 5,257 participants via The Practising Midwife Facebook Group

The objectives of the event were to examine the perceptions of midwifery held by those in the profession, of health and social care policy makers, of the media, service users and of those who may plan to enter the profession; to inspire the enthusiasm of those attending and empower them to become change agents in their own work settings by becoming Ambassadors. 

Developing the Ambassador Network 

The next steps for the work will focus on developing the midwifery ambassadors to: 

  • Ignite a thriving community of registered and student midwives to champion the profession and opportunities in midwifery and help transform perceptions of midwifery 
  • Recruit two midwives and/or student midwives per NHS maternity unit or university to be active frontline ambassadors for midwifery 
  • Deliver a programme of agreed 30 Day challenges to promote the profession 
  • Demonstrate that the ambassador movement is building energy for change across the country and making a tangible difference 

The role of the ambassador is: 

The role of the ambassador is to lead or contribute to the local delivery of the Transforming Perceptions of Midwifery programme and to be a role model for midwifery as a confident, credible professional. 

Midwifery ambassadors help to raise awareness of the profession across the following key areas: 

  • Promote midwifery as a first choice career option for young people (Recruitment and entry) 
  • Enhance current midwives pride in the profession (Retention) 
  • Influence the (media) representation of the profession and promote the view of midwifery amongst the (public) as a highly trusted and clinically expert profession 

The specific responsibilities of a midwifery ambassador are: 

  • Acting as a local advocate of midwifery, representing the profession in a positive light and by doing so, building awareness and positive perceptions of midwifery 
  • Creating a bridge between activities to promote midwifery locally and the nationwide “transforming perceptions” campaign 
  • Speaking for local organisations and the midwives in them within the national campaign 
  • Taking the “calls to action” from the national campaign and shaping them so they will work in a local context 
  • Contribute to the development of ideas, including participating in training and workshops 
  • Leading the local version of the campaign and getting other midwives engaged and taking action 
  • Representing the programme at local launches and events 
  • Increasing awareness by promoting the programme through a variety of channels that might include social media, workshops and blogs 
  • Building partnerships and connections that will help the campaign 
  • Demonstrating the impact of the campaign 
  • Investing in their own development to be able to carry out the role successfully.

Who can be an ambassador? 

Any registered midwife or student midwife, at any age or stage of their career, working in any NHS or University setting, who is: 

  • A passionate advocate for the midwifery profession 
  • Adaptable and eager to try new approaches 
  • Up for the leadership challenge of spreading change and influence 
  • Ready to invest in their own development 
  • Able to participate in monthly virtual meetings (or watch the recording afterwards) 
  • Ability to attend two national face to face meetings each year 
  • No previous experience is required. 

What training and support do midwifery ambassadors get? 

Ambassadors get the opportunity to take a leadership role in a nationwide programme of 30 Day Challenges. They are able to link up with other midwifery ambassadors from across the country and have learning opportunities which can be included in revalidation portfolio, including: 

  • Building skills in making change happen 
  • Coaching to develop digital and virtual collaboration skills 
  • Developing skills to promote midwifery with politicians 
  • Influencing and communication skills including blog writing and becoming more effective with social media 
  • Access to resources to work with children in schools to promote midwifery as a career of choice 

How do midwives become ambassadors 

Existing midwifery ambassadors have been send information to confirm their role and to support them with gaining sponsorship from their local maternity service senior leaders – there is still time to return these forms! Do let me know if you haven’t received anything by emailing me at Bev.Matthews@nhs.net. Services currently without ambassadors will be offered the opportunity to identify up to two inspiring midwives to join this national network. 

I feel privileged to be working closely with NHS Horizons to lead this exciting work to proactively enhance the public perception of the midwifery profession, through an improved representation of the role of the midwife through the media, empowering and motivating midwives to increase morale thus retaining them in their roles while showcasing midwifery as a career of choice and grow our future workforce Claire Mathews, Deputy Head of Maternity NHS England and NHS Improvement