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NHS first as chief midwife hired to improve maternity care in the North West

Chief Midwife - North West

The NHS has appointed the region’s first chief midwife to lead improvements in care for expectant mothers and their babies during the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

NHS England have announced that Sascha Wells-Munro OBE would be the first to take on the new role in the North West of England, making her responsible for midwifery leadership and the provision of safer and more personal care for women, babies and their families in this region.

Sascha qualified as a midwife in 1995, and worked in hospitals and the community before becoming an agency midwife in many organisations to broaden her knowledge. She has worked as a delivery suite co-ordinator and in 2004 was appointed a Supervisor of Midwives.

Sascha completed her Post Graduate Certificate at master’s level in Advanced Midwifery Practice in 2011 whilst in post as Maternity Matron, and that year joined University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS FT as the Director of Midwifery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at a time when maternity services were under extensive regulatory review.

Over the 7 years in post at UHMBT Sascha led Maternity Services from special measures through extensive and much needed transformation and change, which in 2017 resulted in CQC rating maternity services across Morecambe Bay as good.

Sascha is committed to supporting women to achieve a safe active birth and is a passionate midwife. She believes that Midwifery must remain a distinct profession to ensure that women and families continue to receive the high quality, safe maternity care that midwives, and maternity support workers provide alongside their other professional colleagues as part of a multi-professional team

In April 2018 Sascha was appointed by NHS Improvement as a Maternity Improvement Advisor to support maternity services across the country that face challenges and require significant transformation and improvement, and she has received many accolades during her career, including as a board member at the Royal College of Nursing and Midwifery.

Sascha was awarded an OBE in the New Years’ Honours list 2020 for services to the NHS and Patient safety.

Sascha Wells-Munro, chief midwifery officer for the North West said:

“I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be  appointed as the  first Regional Chief Midwife for the North West region, one of many key appointments across England to support the first Chief Midwifery Officer.

“There is already much  great work happening across the region to ensure services meet the needs of the women and families using them and one of my key priorities will be to support the hardworking maternity teams to continue this, by engaging, listening and really hearing what women and families want and need from their services.

“Continuity of carer is also a key priority and ensuring that more than 51% of women receive this model of care by March 2021 is essential to reducing health inequalities, and therefore improving healthier outcomes for both mothers and babies across the north west region.

“I am really  looking forward to meeting all the maternity teams across the region when I take up post in April”

The regional chief midwife will lead on maternity transformation by implementing the recommendations of Better Births, the report of the national maternity review, and the implementation of the NHS Long Term plan in the North West of England.

This includes making care more personal by ensuring that by 2021 most women are given the same midwife before, during and after birth.

More personal care means safer care – helping to reduce pre-term births as well as women’s overall experience of care.

Continuity of carer will be prioritised for those women and unborn children who would benefit from it the most, including those who are from BAME or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Sascha will also support England’s first Chief Midwifery Officer, Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent, in her work leading the development of maternity care to ensure England continues to be one of the safest places in the world to be pregnant, give birth and receive postnatal care.

Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer for England, said: “I am absolutely delighted to welcome Sascha in her new role at what is a pivotal time for maternity care, as we look to make every mum’s experience of giving birth more personal.

“During the Year of the Nurse and Midwife we will be celebrating the extraordinary contribution that midwives make to new mums, babies and their families, so this is a significant time to make this important announcement.”

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “It was with great pleasure that I welcome Sascha, who will take a lead role in making the North West and the whole of England the safest place in the world to have a baby.

“Nurses and midwives play a vital role in delivering care to patients, and for more than 70 years have been the backbone of the NHS.”

The NHS is leading celebrations for the international Year of the Nurse and Midwife, which marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, and a year when nurses and midwives will be celebrated worldwide.

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For further information please contact the NHS North West media team on england.nwmedia@nhs.net or 07736484533

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