Midwifery Unit Network Team

Dr Lucia Rocca Ihenacho

Dr Lucia Rocca Ihenacho

CEO of Midwifery Unit Network

Bio

Lucia studied anthropology in Italy where she also qualified as a midwife and worked in independent practice offering holistic care. In 2002, Lucia moved to England where she worked for 13 years in the National Health Service in various clinical-academic positions including as a Consultant Midwife in Public Health in a large teaching hospital in London. Her PhD focused on identifying the key ingredients for a well-functioning midwifery unit. Since 2015Lucia has been based at City, University of London where she works as a lecturer and researcher. Lucia is one of the co-founders and CEO of the Midwifery Unit Network, a community of  practice  which supports the implementation and improvement of  MUs  in Europe.  

Lucia is invited internationally to present at conferences, to facilitate training and to provide consultancy on how to develop and improve midwifery units. She has experience of mentoring midwives and medical staff in clinical practice in a wide range of settings from home births in London to the mountains of rural Afghanistan. 

Lucia is passionate about supporting organisational change and the development of positive interdisciplinary team culture based on respecting the contribution of each role within the team. She is committed towards women’s human rights in childbirth and the recognition of midwives’ autonomy globally.

Ellen Thaels

Ellen Thaels

Director Of Midwifery Unit Network

Bio

Ellen is a Clinical academic Midwife who joined the Midwifery Unit Network in 2017. 

After she finished her Masters in Midwifery (MSc) at the University of Leuven (Belgium) Ellen moved to London to work as a midwife. She works in the St Mary’s hospital Birth Centre, which is part of Imperial College NHS Trust. In February 2016, she was awarded with a Fellowship from Imperial College Healthcare Charity (ICHC). She is working collaboratively on an NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation research project with the title: ‘NICE Birthplace Action’ and is one of the co-authors of the Midwifery Unit Standards.

Chantelle Winstanley

Chantelle Winstanley

Lead for Midwifery Unit Academy

Bio

Chantelle  has been a practising midwife since 2000, working in a variety of roles in the NHS, as an independent practitioner and as an academic midwife teacher. Chantelle’s clinical expertise lies in midwife-led models of care; from 2011 – 2019, she was a consultant midwife in normality, working in two large, teaching hospitals in London. She left the NHS in 2019 to become a freelance consultant midwife, relocating from London to Cumbria. Since this time, Chantelle has been the lead for the Midwifery Unit Academy. 

Chantelle has a passion for championing women’s choices, voices and rights to enable them to aim for an optimal birthing experience. She believes ‘optimal birth’ belongs to the woman and not to a maternity system and continues to utilise this philosophy in her various clinical, leadership and teaching roles. In the past 10 years, she  has also been privileged to witness childbirth and practice midwifery in Ghana, Cambodia and Rwanda.  

 

Richard Hallett MBE

Richard Hallett MBE

Director of Midwifery Unit Network

Bio

Richard chairs the East Sussex Maternity Voices Partnership, is a Director of the Community Hospital Association, has been a Hospital Friends charity trustee for 20 years and was a FE College Governor for 5 years. In 2013 he was appointed MBE for services to midwifery and parents.

As a “community entrepreneur” in health service support, he campaigned for his local maternity unit in Crowborough to become the first official midwife-led birth centre in the UK. He was a founder director of the Birth Centre Network UK, which campaigned successfully for midwife-led care to be included in the National Service Framework for Maternity 2004.

Richard has a postgraduate degree in Economics, extensive business experience at Managing Director level of sizeable food manufacturing companies and more recently is providing business support and advice to SMEs. He managed the creation of the Midwifery Unit Network as a Limited Company in 2019, as the Company Secretary and Treasurer looks after the business management that supports the midwife team.

Nazihah Uddin

Nazihah Uddin

Support Staff

Bio

 

Nazihah qualified as a Radiographer in 2018 and has been working as a Research Administrator/Assistant at City, University of London since 2019, involved in various research projects. She recently joined the MUNet team and is responsible for administration work for both the network and the academy. She completed her Masters in January 2020 in understanding the impact of birth trauma on maternity health professionals and how the severity of traumatic events witnessed may be associated with PTSD symptoms. Her interests lies in exploring how different patient groups mental health may be affected and how this can be enhanced within healthcare.

Anna Horn

Anna Horn

Service user representative

Bio

 

Anna Horn is a maternity service user and advocate. After the empowering waterbirth of her daughter, Iris, Anna became extremely passionate about midwifery led care. Outside of family time with her daughter and husband, Anna is a breastfeeding counsellor and a PhD student at City, University of London where the focus of her research is group antenatal and postnatal care. Anna Horn has a special interest in intersectionality and disparities in maternal and child health.

Associates

Professor Susan Bewley

Professor Susan Bewley

Bio

Susan Bewley is an Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics & Women’s Health at King’s College London, having been the first woman trained in the sub-speciality of Maternal Fetal Medicine in the UK. Despite (or because of) researching severe obstetric illnesses and violence in pregnancy, she supports midwifery-led care, continuity, informed choices and safe systems as vital for women’s (and babies’) health and human rights. She chaired the NICE intrapartum care guideline CG190, and describes her ‘evidence-based baby’s birth’ as the best day of her life.

Dr Juliet Rayment

Dr Juliet Rayment

Bio

Juliet is a qualitative researcher and storyteller. Her work on maternity services has included the Birthplace in England Research Programme, a follow-on study of Alongside Midwifery Units, being part of the team for the Midwifery Unit Standards and her own doctoral research (2011). Since 2016 she has been a freelance research consultant: designing and writing-up qualitative research on health and social care. She particularly loves analysis – helping organisations tease out the learning from users’ stories and explaining complex ideas for everyone. Juliet writes a regular blog for The Practising Midwife: ‘Research Rocks’, which aims to make qualitative research accessible to midwives. You can find out more about Juliet and her work at her website www.julietrayment.co.uk.

Dr Tracey Cooper MBE

Dr Tracey Cooper MBE

Bio

Tracey is Associate Chief Nurse (Midwifery) at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and has 25 years midwifery experience. She was awarded an MBE in 2018 for her contribution to midwifery, an Outstanding Contribution Award for Midwifery and Maternity Services in 2018 and became a Fellow of the RCM in 2017. Tracey gained her PhD in 2011. Tracey has contributed to the development of a number of NICE guidelines, is a CQC Specialist Advisor and part of the BJM Editorial Board. She has developed care collaboratively in all settings, including supporting Yoana Stancheva and Ilona Neshkova to develop the first midwifery led practice and birth centre in Bulgaria. Twitter: @drtraceyc

Catherine Williams

Catherine Williams

Bio
Catherine is an experienced service user representative and advocate in maternity. She first joined an MSLC (now NHS Maternity Voices Partnership) in 2004 and chaired the Reading MVP 2012-15, also qualifying as an antenatal educator in 2012. Catherine was a lay member of the Guideline Development Group for NICE CG190 Intrapartum Care – care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth (2014) and subsequently a NICE Fellow 2016-19. She was first acting Chair of National Maternity Voices (the national network of chairs of Maternity Voices Partnerships, from 2017), has lay representative roles in maternity with Health Education England and NHS England and is involved in a number of maternity research groups. She works in patient and public involvement in health and social care.
Laura Batinelli

Laura Batinelli

Bio

Laura is a clinical academic midwife and has been an invaluable member of the MUNet team since 2016, having been involved with many initiatives both in the UK and across Europe and with a particular focus in research. Laura held a Director position within MUNet and she is now focusing on her PhD studies at City, University of London. Laura’s research project focuses on supporting and implementing a new Midwifery Unit in her hometown of Grosseto, Italy. She collaborates with many Italian partners in initiatives to promote the scaling-up of midwifery units. Laura coordinated the translation of the Midwifery Unit Standards in Italian, launching at the national conference in Milan in February 2020. The document is free and available on the MUNet website under the section ‘Midwifery Unit Standards.’

Laura works clinically as part of the birth centre core team at St George’s University Hospital, London.

Professor Christine McCourt

Professor Christine McCourt

Bio
Christine McCourt is Professor of Maternal and Child Health, School of Health Sciences, at City, University of London, where she leads the Centre for Research in Maternal and Child Health. She teaches at Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral level as well as leading and supporting a range of research projects. Her key interests are in maternity and women’s health, institutions and service change and reform, women’s experiences of childbirth and maternity care and in the culture and organisation of maternity care. She has worked over a number of years on applying anthropological theory and methodology to studying healthcare. Building on this, she has a profile for developing methodology for complex interventions research, including context-sensitive trials, combining ethnography with experimental design and realist evaluation. Her recent research has focused particularly on research on place of birth and on issues of equity and access to care. She also has a strong focus on bringing evidence from research on quality, safety and women’s and midwives’ experiences of care to reforming maternity and reproductive rights globally, through supervision of doctoral and postdoctoral studies and plans for reforming and evaluating care.
Soo Downe

Soo Downe

Professor of Midwifery Studies, OBE

Bio

Soo worked as a clinical midwife between 1985 and 2000.  In 2001 she joined UCLan  where she is now the Professor of Midwifery Studies. Her main research focus is the nature of, and cultures around, normal birth. She is currently working with WHO on a range of maternity care guidelines, and has been a co-editor on three Lancet Series (Midwifery, Stillbirth, and Reducing Caesarean Section). She has published over 120 peer reviewed papers, and has undertaken research using a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods.  

MUNet
co-founders

Sheena Byrom OBE

Sheena Byrom OBE

Bio

Sheena is a practising midwife of 40 years, having worked in the NHS for most of that time. As well as being an international speaker, Sheena provides consultancy services to both NHS Trusts and to organisations globally; helping to support normal, physiological childbirth. Sheena and her midwife daughter Anna Byrom are the proud new owners of The Practising Midwife, and an exciting online platform All4Materity.com.

Sheena’s midwifery memoirs, Catching Babies, is a Sunday Times bestseller, and her seminal book, The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity carejointly edited with Soo Downe, is being used as a resource to improve maternity care throughout the world.  

Sheena was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives in 2015. In 2016, Sheena received and Honorary Doctorate from Bournemouth University, and in 2017 she was made a Visiting Fellow at the same university. Her personal and midwifery related website is sheenabyrom.com.

Mary Newburn

Mary Newburn

Bio

Mary has been a maternity service user advocate since the 1980s. She has four, now adult, sons and four grandchildren. After working for NCT, the UK’s pregnancy and parenthood charity, for many years, she is now a consultant health researcher, and public and patient involvement (PPI) lead for the NIHR-funded ARC maternity and perinatal Mental health theme at King’s College, London. 

Mary has an MSc in Public Health: Health Services Research and has worked with Oxford University/NPEU, University College London, UCLAN, City University, NHS England, Positive Birth Movement and National Maternity Voices facilitating PPI in maternity services and research. Mary set up the MUNet Beacon Site awards when she was Executive Manager of MUNet until 2017. 

Mary’s website is  marynewburn1.com 

Felipe Castro Cardona

Felipe Castro Cardona

Bio

Felipe is a consultant midwife in normality and public health at Barts Health NHS Trust. After graduating as a Nurse in Spain, Felipe moved to the UK and trained in Midwifery at City, University of London, gaining an MA in Public Health and Health Economics in 2013.

Felipe has worked in the NHS for more than 10 years: as a midwife at a Freestanding Birth Centre and intrapartum co-ordinator and lead for normality and triage. He has worked in research and training throughout this time, with a focus on midwifery units and enhancing midwifery skills.

Advisors

Public and parent involvementMary Newburn, Milli Hill, Rosie Goode, Richard Hallett MBE, Catherine Williams, Anna Horn
Academics Prof. Soo Downe OBE, Dr. Denis Walsh, Prof. Helen Cheyne, Prof. Christine McCourt, Dr. Kirsty Coxon, Dr. Juliet Rayment, Prof. Alison Macfarlane, Dr. Rachel Rowe, Prof. Susan Bewley, Rona McCandlish, Prof. Jane Sandall, Prof. Lesley Page CBE, Dr. Maria Healey, 
RCMMervi Jokinen, Kathryn Gutteridge, Mary Ross-Davy, Lia Brigante
GPDr. Stuart Bingham 
NeonatologistDr. Savi Sivashankar, Dr. Caroline Sullivan 
Service leadsSeane Talbot, Anita Fleming, Cate Langley, Phyllis Winters, Pauline Cooke, Dr. Marie Lewis, Jaki Lambert
NCTElizabeth Duff, Seana Talbot 
NHS EnglandProf. Jacqui Dunkley-Bent, Dr. Tracy Cooper
Public HealthAmy Coates
CommissionersMike Lane, Lynette Harwood 
Midwifery LeadersHelen Shallow, Dame Cathy Warwick

Country Editors

Scotland

Jaki Lambert

Jaki Lambert

Consultant Lead midwife

Argyll & Bute Health and Social Care Partnership

Wales

Dr Marie Lewis

Dr Marie Lewis

Consultant Midwife

Powys Teaching Health Board

Northern Ireland

Dr Maria Healy

Dr Maria Healy

Lecturer

School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast

Switzerland

Claire De Labrusse

Claire De Labrusse

Haut Ecole de Santé Vaud