A project that has increased healthy eating among vulnerable pregnant women across Greater Manchester has led to midwife Susan McAuliffe winning a national award.  

on 22 May 2023 RCM Midwifery Midwives Awards RCM Annual Midwifery Awards Student midwives Expectant Mothers Good Health

A project that has increased healthy eating among vulnerable pregnant women across Greater Manchester has led to midwife Susan McAuliffe winning a national award.  


Susan - Public Health Matron at Saint Mary’s Managed Clinical Service, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust - received the Excellence in Midwifery for Public Health award sponsored by Slimming World at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) annual awards in London on 19 May.  

RCM Chief Executive, Gill Walton said: “This is an incredible story of a dedicated midwife creating a game-changing initiative across a whole city that is leading to healthier women, healthier pregnancies, and healthier babies. She not only looked within her own maternity services to change things, but without as well, highlighting how important multi-agency collaboration is to the health of women in pregnancy. This is certainly a model that could be replicated in cities across the UK, and for this Susan is a truly inspirational winner.” 

Susan spotted that around a third of women and families eligible for the Healthy Start Scheme across Saint Mary’s geographical footprint were not claiming . According to recent Sustain data, this is estimated at £1.3 million not being claimed for fruit and vegetables through the Healthy Start Scheme (HSS).  The HSS is available to women receiving certain benefits. Good nutrition is a key part of having a healthy pregnancy, so Susan set out to increase the HSS grant uptake.  

She worked with several agencies including maternity services, health visitors and other agencies - including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Manchester Central Food Bank - to raise awareness of the HS scheme among those supporting women. Among other initiatives Susan organised targeted support in specific areas across the city were there were high numbers of women missing out on claiming. One sample group of women saw a jump in successful  HSS claims from 63% to 77%. Across the city HHS claims are continuing to rise.

Susan said, “Living with low income presents many challenges, leaving very little in the budget to spend on healthy food, which is often more expensive.  The Healthy Start Scheme is a nutritional safety net for those that need it the most. In the last year across England Sustain have estimated that £68 million of HSS support has been unclaimed. It is vital that all  pregnant women, birthing people and families entitled to the HSS are aware of the scheme and supported to apply if required. Multidisciplinary working has been an essential part of this work and it has been a joy to work in a partnership where all are committed to the same vision and outcomes.”

A HSS training video and slides are also being produced as part of a Manchester HSS Multiagency Task force in which Susan has a central role. Not content with that she even negotiated a discount with the hospital fruit and vegetable store for those eligible for HSS grants.  

Alexandra Clark, Registered Nutritionist at Slimming World, said: “We’re thrilled to support the Excellence in Midwifery for Public Health award, especially this year with its focus on healthy eating among vulnerable pregnant women. We know through our own recent research into the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis that half of UK adults say increasing food costs are making it harder to make healthy food choices. 

“Due to Susan’s care and dedication, pregnant women, not just in her care, but across the whole of Manchester, are being supported to lead healthier lives now and in the future.” 


To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].

Notes to Editor 

For more information on the RCM awards and the full list of winners visit RCM Awards 2023 | Royal College of Midwives Awards UK.

For more information on the Healthy Start Scheme visit Healthy Start - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.

About Slimming World

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE in Derbyshire in 1969 and has become the UK and Ireland’s leading weight loss organisation with more people choosing to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight loss programme. We support hundreds of thousands of people, both in our groups and online, to lose weight and to adopt new habits to stay slim for life.

Over the years our founding principles haven’t changed:

  • Our unique programme is based on a powerfully motivating support system called IMAGE (Individual Motivation and Group Experience) Therapy. Underpinned by a deep understanding of the psychology of overweight people, and incorporating the most effective sustainable behaviour change techniques, IMAGE Therapy is designed to inspire and motivate slimmers to make positive changes and to develop new, healthier habits around food and activity.
  • Food Optimising is our healthy eating plan, based on the liberating concept of Free Food. We encourage our members to fill up on those foods that are naturally lower in energy density (calories per gram) and also highly satisfying while limiting foods that are highest in fat and sugar and are less satisfying, so they lose weight without ever feeling hungry or deprived and without having to weigh, measure or count everything they eat.
  • Our activity support programme, Body Magic helps members to overcome any barriers around exercise. Members choose when to start and they set the pace, finding activities they genuinely enjoy, until regular physical activity becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine.

At the heart of everything we do lies our passion for treating every member with genuine care, empathy and respect.

We’re proud to work with the NHS, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), The Royal College of Midwives and others to help shape the future of weight management in the UK and Ireland.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit slimmingworld.co.uk or slimmingworld.ie

Follow Slimming World on Twitter at twitter.com/slimmingworld or become a Slimming World fan on Facebook at facebook.com/slimmingworld

For the Press Office visit our newsroom or email [email protected]