Midwifery Unit Network Team
Dr Lucia Rocca Ihenacho
CEO and co-founder of Midwifery Unit Network
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 2015, Lucia 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.
Director Of Midwifery Unit Network
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.
Lead for Midwifery Unit Academy
Chantelle has been a practising midwife since 2000, working in a variety of roles in the NHS, as an independent practitioner and as a midwifery educator. Chantelle’s clinical and leadership expertise lies in midwife-led models of care, physiological birthing principles and advocating for true, informed-choice and individualised approaches to maternity care. She is an experienced consultant midwife, having worked in two large teaching hospitals in London from 2011-2019. Following this, Chantelle left the NHS to relocate with her family to Cumbria and became a freelance consultant midwife and educator; she has been leading the Midwifery Unit Academy since 2019 and feels honoured to be a key member of the MUNet Directorship team.
Chantelle is an associate trainer for the charity Birthrights and has a passion and skill 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 throughout her midwifery practice and compassionate leadership approach. In the past 10 years, she has also been privileged to witness childbirth and practice midwifery in Ghana, Cambodia and Rwanda.
Service user representative
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.
Richard Hallett MBE
Director of Midwifery Unit Network
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.
Research and implementation expert
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.
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.
Digital marketing intern
Sandrine Uwase is an international student pursuing a degree in Business Administration at Hult International Business School. Her interest in marketing started when she worked as a marketing assistant for the social enterprise she co-founded when she was 18.
Her passion for marketing and desire to explore the health industry has led her to work for MUNet as a digital marketing intern. Her main duties revolve around reaching out to key stakeholders and professionals to promote MUNet and enhance its online visibility.
Shujana is a clinical academic midwife who has been collaborating with MUNet since 2017 and has worked as part of the research team on the development of the MU Standards. She has been working as a midwife since 2014 and has completed the NIHR funded Master in Clinical Research in 2018. She has since been a pre-doctoral fellow at City, University of London, where she is part of the research team conducting the implementation case studies of the Midwifery Unit Self-Assessment Toolkit. She is currently working on the European Midwifery Units Mapping project as well as the Evaluation of the Educational Programme Coaching for Continuity provided by MUNet across North West London NHS Trusts. Shujana works clinically at the Whittington Health NHS Trust, in North London where she lives with her young family. She also speaks Tamil and French and has been collaborating with the Swiss, Belgian and French midwifery partners on the French translation of the MU Standards.
Shujana is a fervent advocate for women’s choice throughout their pregnancy journey and strongly believes that the decision on place of birth rests on the mother and no-one else. Her academic research has a specific focus on salutogenesis in childbirth and explores how to incorporate salutogenic theories in the current context of maternity care orientated on risk management and the changing landscape due to COVID-19.
Dr Kathryn Gutteridge
Midwifery Unit Network Ambassador
RM, MSc, Doctor of Science, FRCM.
Dr Kathryn Gutteridge is a midwife and has worked in clinical roles throughout her long career in the NHS. As a midwife she has always held the wishes and choices of women and their families central to the way she works – an advocate for them all. Her work has allowed her to develop and support midwifery led environments and uphold the fundamental role of what it is to be a midwife. Kathryn has designed 3 midwifery units, perhaps the most well-known are Serenity and Halcyon Birth Centres in Birmingham which were awarded the Royal College of Midwives Supporting Normality Awards in 2013. These birth centres were at the forefront of advising and supporting many other similar birth centres throughout the UK and wider world.
As a Consultant Midwife Kathryn underpinned her practice in evidence and supported women in achieving the highest quality of care. She is widely published in peer review journals and many midwifery books through her career. She has also represented midwifery by presenting her work nationally and internationally at conferences and professional seminars. In 2017 Kathryn was elected by my peer midwives as RCM President probably the highest achievement of her career. She succeeded in that role in 2021.
Since retiring from her clinical post in 2019 she has spent time in supporting the work of charities that she believes in; these are GBSS Charity where she is a trustee, CISTER’s – an organisation supporting women sexually abused as children within their family setting and finally her own organisation SANCTUM Midwives. Kathryn feels fortunate to be teaching at Coventry University sharing her knowledge and passion with student midwives.
Kathryn: “I am so happy to be an Ambassador of Midwifery Unit Network, I have the strategic experience and vision to be able to contribute to a midwifery world where all women are assured a midwife will be with them throughout their childbearing journey. I hope that I can be a beacon of light and a voice for the world of midwifery as I join with likeminded passionate midwives.”
Professor Susan Bewley
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
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
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
Professor Christine McCourt
Professor of Midwifery Studies, OBE
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.
Sheena Byrom OBE
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 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 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.
|Public and parent involvement||Mary 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,
|RCM||Mervi Jokinen, Kathryn Gutteridge, Mary Ross-Davy, Lia Brigante|
|GP||Dr. Stuart Bingham
|Neonatologist||Dr. Savi Sivashankar, Dr. Caroline Sullivan
|Service leads||Seane Talbot, Anita Fleming, Cate Langley, Phyllis Winters, Pauline Cooke, Dr. Marie Lewis, Jaki Lambert
|NCT||Elizabeth Duff, Seana Talbot
|NHS England||Prof. Jacqui Dunkley-Bent, Dr. Tracy Cooper
|Public Health||Amy Coates
|Commissioners||Mike Lane, Lynette Harwood
|Midwifery Leaders||Helen Shallow, Dame Cathy Warwick
Consultant Lead midwife
Argyll & Bute Health and Social Care Partnership
Dr Marie Lewis
Powys Teaching Health Board
Dr Maria Healy
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast
Claire De Labrusse
Haut Ecole de Santé Vaud