Midwife from Leicester celebrated by RCM for her work to make the midwifery curriculum equal for all

on 22 May 2023 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Government Pregnancy Midwifery Workforce Wales

A Leicester midwife has won a national award for her work to eliminate the continuing influence of colonialism within midwifery education.

Maxine Chapman, who works at the University of Leicester has championed quality, diversity and inclusion throughout her career. Her latest work on decolonising the content of the midwifery training course, has been lauded by her colleagues and recognised by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), who presented her with their Race Matters Unsung Hero award at a ceremony in London on 19 May.

Work to decolonise the curriculum is vitally important say the RCM. Colonialism within midwifery education can both disadvantage non-white students and put pregnant women at risk. Addressing this issue is seen as crucial to ensuring that the curriculum educates students to care for women and babies from non-white backgrounds and supports people from all backgrounds and ethnicities.

Commenting on her win, Maxine said: “I’m elated to have won the Race Matters Award for the category of the unsung hero - Midwife or Higher Education Institution staff. This award acknowledges the effort to ensure culturally sensitive education and practice for all women, to improve the student experience and outcomes in care for the global majority. I hope the award inspires others to continue this very important work.”

The RCM’s Chief Executive, Gill Walton, who presented Maxine with her award highlighted how crucial her work is: “I am proud to present Maxine with this award. She has made a huge contribution towards midwifery education, particularly decolonising the curriculum for student midwives. This is such an important piece of work, which is far more than just removing the odd word from a textbook. We live in a multicultural world, and we need to widen the lens of midwifery education so that it’s relevant for all backgrounds, races and religions. The work Maxine does has a significant knock-on effect on women and families in the maternity services, as the care they receive ends up more culturally sensitive and educated. Thanks to her work students are more likely to recognise unwell women and babies, such as jaundice or rashes. Huge congratulations to Maxine.”

Ensuring the midwifery curriculum trains midwives to provide outstanding and safe care for all backgrounds by decolonising the curriculum comes at a vital time. A recent MBRRACE report in maternal outcomes for Black and Asian women in the UK showed stark findings: Black women are nearly four times more likely to die in pregnancy, childbirth and up to a year postnatally than white women; and women from South Asian backgrounds are almost twice as likely to die.

Commenting on the win Danni Burnett, Director of Midwifery at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “It is essential that maternity care is safe and personal for all. It is vital we work together to improve equity for mothers and babies, particularly in an area as diverse as Leicester and Leicestershire. We are proud of Maxine and her contribution to the development of Decolonising Midwifery Education toolkit to address inequity in health education.”

The award was sponsored by BAME Birthing With Colour who commented: “Maxine Chapman's inspiring leadership, selflessness, and tireless support for her colleagues and students make her a true unsung hero in the pursuit of higher standards of care. As a midwifery lecturer at the University of Leicester, Maxine's unwavering commitment to decolonising the curriculum, promoting equitable care, and empowering students has transformed the educational landscape and resulted in more culturally sensitive and knowledgeable midwives entering the workforce.”