Ruth Clarke joined the Health Service in 1973 as a student nurse, qualifying in 1976. She studied at the Northern Ireland College of Midwifery, qualified as a midwife in 1978 and has worked continuously with, and for, midwives since that time.
She worked at the Royal Maternity Hospital (RMH), Belfast from 1978 as a staff midwife and a midwifery sister before taking up the position of Nursing/Midwifery Officer at the Jubilee Maternity Hospital (JMH) in 1988. Since the amalgamation of the two units she has been employed as Clinical Midwife Manager at the new Royal Jubilee Maternity Service.
Ruth has been a passionate advocate for the development of midwife-led care in Northern Ireland, implementing a caseload midwifery service whilst working in the JMH.
Having obtained a Diploma in Midwifery in 1984, Ruth then completed a BSc in Professional Studies in Midwifery at Queens University Belfast (QUB).
She is a guest lecturer at QUB and is a member of the curriculum planning team for both QUB and the in-service education consortium at the Beeches Management Centre. Her expertise in this area has also been sought by colleagues from the Republic of Ireland.
Ruth completed the Supervisor of Midwives course in 1996 and was appointed as a Supervisor by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board. She is currently acting as the Local Supervisory Authority Midwifery Officer for the EHSSB.
Ruth has been an active member of the RCM almost since qualifying as a midwife. She has been Branch Secretary to the Belfast Branch, was the Belfast Branch elected representative to the RCM's Board for Northern Ireland, serving for several years as the Chairman of the Board. She has been a member of RCM Council since 1994 and has served two terms of office as Chairman of Council from 2001-2005, during which time she was instrumental in guiding RCM Council through both internal RCM and external NHS reforms throughout the United Kingdom.
Ruth has led many RCM activities in Northern Ireland, including the campaign to have a midwifery advisor post established at the DHSSPS. It was fitting therefore that she became the first incumbent of the post, acting as the Midwifery Advisor to the DHSSPS from 2001 to 2004. During her tenure at the DHSSPS she was instrumental in increasing the number of student midwives training posts, introducing direct entry midwifery education to Northern Ireland and, perhaps most importantly, persuading a series of health ministers of the benefits of developing community midwifery units in Northern Ireland. This culminated in a ministerial announcement in July 2004 permitting the establishment of community midwifery units - a major achievement in the face of concerted opposition from many factions.
Ruth works closely with the RCM staff team in Northern Ireland and has established firm links with the Midwives Section of the Irish Nurses
Organisation, with whom the Board holds a joint conference each year. She is a member of ICM Council and is known and respected by midwifery colleagues internationally. She is currently actively engaged with the planning of the 2008 ICM Congress in Glasgow.
Ruth is continuing the tradition set by other pioneering midwives in Northern Ireland, such as; Dame Mary Uprichard, Liz Duffin and Eunice Foster, all of whom are RCM Vice-Presidents.
Ruth's contribution to midwifery and to the RCM has earned her the high regard of her midwifery colleagues locally, nationally and internationally and the Council is of the view that this high level of regard and work should be recognised by including her name on the Register of Honorary Fellows of the RCM.