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Northern Ireland midwife wins top UK midwifery award

30th January 2012    

Award given for service which is first in Northern Ireland

A midwife from Northern Ireland has scooped one of the UK’s top midwifery prizes at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Awards, for launching a service which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Hilary Patterson, a midwife at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust won the National Maternity Support Foundation (NMSF) Supporting Training and Rewarding Excellence in Bereavement Award. This was for her work setting up and developing a service to help parents who have lost their baby following miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or the loss of an older child throughout the bereavement process.

Recognising there was a need to help parents suffering this kind of loss, Hilary established the Bereavement Support Midwife post in December 2003; the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. The midwife in the post coordinates the care for parents from the moment the bad news is broken with continuing support in the hospital or at home.  

Following the success of this pioneering work, Hilary set up the ‘Forget Me Not’ group at the Ulster Hospital in October 2007. This is a group of bereaved parents who work with staff to improve the experience and services for parents who have been bereaved through miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or the death of a child.

The award will provide Jake’s Scholarship funding enabling Hilary to do a Master’s Course in Counselling, adding to her experience and enhancing her expertise and the services for bereaved parents. Once completed, she will be designated one of Jake’s Midwives. The scholarship is named after Jake Canter who was stillborn in 2007, and was the son of NMSF founders Andrew and Rachel Canter.

Hilary was presented with her award at the Royal College of Midwives Annual Midwifery Awards ceremony  on 25th January 2012, at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden, London.

Elaine Madden, Head of Midwifery & Gynaecology, South Eastern HSC Trust said”  We are all very proud of Hilary, a wonderful midwife and colleague who has a committed dedication to improving care for bereaved parents and families. As the only Bereavement Support Midwife in Northern Ireland, she has established her post through her own studies, determination and vision. Hilary’s passion will continue in the years ahead to steer best practice for maternity teams in providing care to parents who are bereaved during pregnancy and childbirth”.

Andrew Canter, Chairman of NMSF, said: “We are delighted and immensely proud to present Hilary this award. She has demonstrated a visionary approach to this exceptionally challenging area of midwifery care and has achieved outstanding results.

“We genuinely believe that Jake’s Scholarship will make an enormous difference to Hilary and the parents and families she helps on a daily basis.”

“Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This demonstrates that there is wonderful and ground-breaking work being done by midwives. Such a bereavement is a profoundly difficult time for parents and their families, and they really need the help and support such as that given by Hilary and her colleagues.

“Midwifery practice is always moving forward and innovating. This shows that if we give midwives the resources and the freedom to do this, the result is better services for women, babies and their families.”

For more information contact the RCM Press Office on 020 7312 3456, pressofficer@rcm.org.uk, the South Eastern Trust on (028) 9056 4866, or Andrew Canter, Chairman NMSF, on 07855 447157 or andrew@jakescharity.org.

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Midwives is the voice of midwifery. We are the UK’s only trade union and professional organisation led by midwives for midwives. The vast majority of the midwifery profession are our members. The RCM promotes midwifery, quality maternity services and professional standards. We support and represent our members individually and collectively in all four UK countries.  We influence on behalf of our members and for the interests of the women and families for which they care.  For more information visit the RCM website at www.rcm.org.uk. The 2012 awards are the tenth Royal College of Midwives Annual Midwifery Awards. Prizes are given across 13 categories.